BRITISH double Olympic medallist Andrew Simpson died yesterday after his boat capsized off the California coast during a training session for the America’s Cup.
Simpson had been sailing on the Artemis Racing catamaran, Sweden’s entry in the race, when the 72ft (22 metre) vessel capsized in San Francisco Bay, according to a statement from his racing team.
It is believed Simpson, 36, from Sherborne in Dorset, was trapped under the boat for around ten minutes.
Despite frantic efforts by doctors to revive him with CPR, he was unable to be saved.
Simpson won the Olympic Star class gold with Iain Percy – his Artemis Racing team boss – in Beijing in 2008 and they took silver in London in 2012.
A Coast Guard spokeswoman said it was not yet clear what had caused the boat to capsize.
Mindy Talmadge, spokeswoman for San Francisco Fire Department, said two sailors had been brought to shore and taken to the St Francis Yacht Club where paramedics performed CPR on one of them.
The other sailor’s injuries were not life-threatening, she added.
The rest of the crew from the capsized boat were transferred to a support boat operated by Oracle Racing, which is defending its America’s Cup title from last year.
The America’s Cup website said support boats were at the scene to help in the recovery. Simpson was one of an 11-man crew on board the catamaran, the team website said.
Artemis Racing said: “It is with immense sadness that Artemis Racing confirms the tragic death of crew member Andrew “Bart” Simpson today in San Francisco.”
All other crew members are accounted for.
Paul Cayard, the Artemis racing team’s chief executive officer, said: “The entire Artemis Racing team is devastated by what happened.
“Our heartfelt condolences are with Andrew’s wife and family.”
Born in Chertsey, Surrey, he started sailing at the age of six with his father in Christchurch, Dorset, according to Tyler Sports Management.
Simpson was educated at Pangbourne College, a mixed boarding school in Berkshire and was a keen footballer.
He was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2009 New Year honours list.
The America’s Cup race is due to run from July until September.
Artemis Racing is a Swedish team due to race two boats in the 34th America’s Cup.
A Foreign Office spokesman said it was aware of reports of the death of a British citizen and had contacted its counterparts in the United States.