The committee reviewing the death of Olympic yachtsman Andrew Simpson during America’s Cup training recommended that teams suspend sailing until the middle of next week.
The America’s Cup Review Committee said in a news release on the regatta’s website that it planned to meet with the four competing teams today. The proposed suspension would apply to training in 45-foot and 72-foot catamarans, the panel said.
The review into Simpson’s death on San Francisco Bay is being led by Iain Murray, the regatta director, and includes Sally Lindsay Honey, the two-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year who led last year’s review into the wreck that killed five sailors from the boat Low Speed Chase during the Full Crew Farallones Race out of San Francisco.
The accident involving the Swedish team Artemis Racing was the second involving the new 72-foot (22-meter) boats being used in the Cup. Powered by 131-foot carbon wing sails and capable of skimming above the water on hydrofoils at speeds exceeding 40 knots (46 mph, 74 kph), they are among the fastest sailboats ever built. Larry Ellison’s Oracle Team, the defending champion, destroyed a wing during an October training accident.
Ellison, chief executive of Redwood City, California-based Oracle Corp. (ORCL), won the right to host this year’s America’s Cup by defeating a catamaran sailed by Swiss billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli’s Alinghi syndicate in a two-boat, best-of-three series off Valencia, Spain, using a 90-foot trimaran with a 223-foot rigid wing sail. Ellison’s organizers then remade the Cup for television audiences, using the high-speed, twin-hulled boats to replace traditional monohulls.
Simpson, 36, died May 9 after he was trapped beneath a section of the capsized yacht, out of sight from other vessels and divers searching for him, according to Murray. Simpson won a gold medal for Britain in the Star class at the 2008 Olympic as crew for Iain Percy, now Artemis’s sailing team director. The pair won a silver medal in 2012.
Artemis is doing its own review of the accident, according to a statement from Torbjorn Tornqvist, the team’s chairman.
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