AMERICA’S Cup bosses yesterday vowed to carry out a full investigation into the accident which killed British Olympic gold medal sailor Andrew Simpson.
The news came as tributes were paid to the 36-year-old who was sailing with the Swedish Artemis Racing team in San Francisco Bay when his catamaran capsized on Thursday.
Stephen Barclay, chief executive of the America’s Cup Event Authority, said the investigation would find out why the accident occurred: “One of the things about accidents such as these is there is lots of speculation about various aspects of what happened. What we do know is that he was trapped underneath and it was for a few minutes, we’re not sure if it was one, two, three or ten.
“I imagine that’ll be in the evidence when we review what happened. These boats are very fast. We have boats follow these vessels, there’s divers and doctors in case such things like this happen and those procedures were followed.”
Simpson was one of 11 crew aboard the 72ft vessel which flipped over causing him to become trapped underwater before his body was pulled from the wreckage.
Footage broadcast round the world last night showed the yacht’s sail on the water’s surface and one of its two red hulls raised in the air as rescue boats surrounded it.
Tributes have poured in for the married father-of-two, who won gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Simpson was part of the team that planned to challenge for the 34th America’s Cup and he was sailing alongside his childhood friend and Olympic partner Iain Percy.
Artemis Racing chief executive Paul Cayard said: “The entire team is devastated by what happened. Our heartfelt condolences are with Andrew’s wife and family.”
The British Olympic Association described the sailor as a “treasured and accomplished member of Team GB”. It said: Andrew’s talent and humour was an inspiration to others and he will be sorely missed by the Olympic Family.”
As well as achieving gold in Beijing, Simpson won a silver medal in last year’s Olympics.