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Just Released: Chilling Account Of Big Red's Crash

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  • Just Released: Chilling Account Of Big Red's Crash

    Sam Whiting of The SF Chronicle just released this pieced together article on what occurred on Artemis Racing's Big Red back on May 9th:

    Before 11 a.m., Simpson and other members of the Artemis team made their way to the dock and boarded their AC72, nicknamed Big Red. Compared with teammates who had been there from the start, Simpson was less familiar with the dynamic of the wing-sail catamarans. Word is that this was his third trip out on the boat. Because the sailors must be free to scamper across the trampoline of the catamaran, none of them was harnessed in or clipped on to the rigging, which is comparable to not wearing a seat belt.

    Late in the morning, the two mighty 72-foot catamarans of Artemis and Oracle, each flanked by four support craft called chase boats, made their rendezvous in San Francisco Bay. The sky was clear; the wind was up, 18 or 20 knots; and the water was choppy.

    The morning head-to-head test passed without incident. As morning became afternoon, the 131-foot-high wing-sail of Big Red could be seen upright, off the northern tip of Treasure Island, preparing to have another run at Oracle.

    At this point, a confidential Artemis report says, the boat was steering into position to put the wind at its back - "bearing away" in yachting parlance. It's a tricky maneuver, a 180-degree turn known as "the zone of death," because the boats may accelerate out of control, while shifting from upwind to downwind.

    As the Artemis AC72 attempted its downwind turn, downward pressure was put onto the front of the twin hulls, pushing them into the water. As the front of the boat dug in, the Artemis report says, the back of the boat lifted up, a situation called pitchpoling. The boat flipped, and the front beam connecting the two hulls broke, causing the portside hull to tear away from the boat. The starboard hull, along with the wing-sail, collapsed into the water.

    "In my opinion, the boat was in the process of capsizing when the boat broke," Percy said in an interview with The Chronicle. "It definitely stuffed the bow" into the water.

    Artemis chase boats were on the scene of the accident, and began transferring crew members, one by one, off Big Red to the chase boat.

    But the head count came up one short.

    "It became apparent that someone was lost in the water," Oracle's Ainslie wrote in the Telegraph of London. "When it became clear that it was Bart who was missing, well, the whole world caved in."

    The prevailing theory is that Simpson became trapped in the wreckage and drowned. "It appears Bart was trapped under some of the solid sections of the yacht - out of view, out of sight," said Regatta Director Iain Murray.

    Tony Outteridge, father of Artemis helmsman Nathan Outteridge, told Australia's Newcastle Herald that as the boat rose and fell into the bay, a loud crack was heard, and it folded in on itself "like a taco shell." One might surmise that Simpson was inside the taco, trapped in the netting of the trampoline as the two hulls pinched together.

    Newcastle Herald writer Sam Rigney wrote: "His crew members could see (Simpson) fighting for his life and dived beneath the water to try and set him free. They handed the man they called 'Bart' emergency oxygen bottles - which hold about 10 breaths each - in a bid to keep him alive in the hope rescue crews would arrive in time."

    But soon after the May 10 article, Nathan Outteridge said the account did not reflect the facts. The film footage also gives no indication of a frantic struggle by teammates to save Simpson, though it's quite possible that the helicopters arrived after that happened.

    Another theory in sailing circles is that Simpson was dead or unconscious before he hit the water, killed by a blow to the head. Rumors have surfaced about significant dents in the dead sailor's helmet, or that it was broken into pieces by the boat's rigging.
    Full Article
    " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella" Photo Gallery

  • #2
    What do they really need a toxicology report for?


    • #3
      to see if he was drinking... remember it's classified by the police as a "vehicle collision investigation "no different than a hit-and-run on a city street"", so they gotta check for anything in the blood system. yea right


      • #4
        Artemis Story On CNN's Mainsail

        Shirley Robertson's coverage is impeccable, and you can expect so intriguing revelations
        in this interview at Artemis's camp back in May!

        " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"

 Photo Gallery


        • #5

          Artemis base tour...
          " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"

 Photo Gallery


          • #6
            Blunt Trauma Cause Of Simpson Death


            SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — British sailing gold medalist Andrew "Bart" Simpson, who died during training for the America's Cup races in May, suffered extensive trauma to his head and neck and drowned after being trapped underwater for about 10 minutes, an autopsy report released Tuesday said.

            The report by the San Francisco medical examiner said there were serious cuts and bruises to Simpson's head and neck, and that foam inside his crash helmet "was irregularly separated consistent with being crushed." The cause of death was listed as "blunt trauma with drowning."

            The autopsy report was obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle ( ).

            Simpson, 36, died May 9 after his 72-foot catamaran nosedived and broke into pieces during a training run for the America's Cup in San Francisco Bay. He served as a strategist for Sweden's Artemis Racing team.

            America's Cup sailors already wore crash helmets and life vests after the introduction of the high-tech boats, which can sail faster than 40 knots.

            Simpson's accidental death prompted the race organizers to implement 37 safety recommendations, including equipping sailors with body armor, an air tank and breathing tube and underwater locator devices.

            The British sailor who died when his team's 72-foot catamaran capsized in San Francisco Bay during an America's Cup training run suffered extensive trauma to his head and neck and drowned while trapped underneath a hull, according to an autopsy report released Tuesday.

            The report by the San Francisco medical examiner revealed few surprises. It listed the cause of death for Andrew "Bart" Simpson, 36, as "blunt trauma with drowning."

            The manner of death: "Accident."

            A shadow was cast across the international event when Simpson, a two-time Olympic medalist, died May 9 during a midday practice sail. The front of the advanced Artemis Racing yacht caught in the water during a turn, one of the hulls broke, and the vessel split in two, throwing crew members into the water.

            Simpson was trapped underwater for about 10 minutes before he was pulled out and rushed to the St. Francis Yacht Club pier, where he was pronounced dead. Three attempts to revive him - first on a chase boat, then on a San Francisco police marine boat, and finally by firefighters on the pier - failed.

            The report does not say whether Simpson was conscious when he went under the water, but the autopsy, done May 10 by Chief Medical Examiner Amy Hart, found serious cuts and bruises to his head and neck. He also had injuries on his torso and his arms and legs. A toxicology report turned up only caffeine.

            A police inspector also brought Simpson's helmet to the medical examiner.

            "The firm, thick gray foam material was in the shape of a helmet but the body of the foam was irregularly separated consistent with being crushed," Hart wrote.

            A week after Simpson's death, a private memorial was held on a flotilla of boats in the bay where he had died. A larger funeral was held May 31 in Sherborne Abbey in his home county of Dorset, England.

            Simpson's death prompted America's Cup organizers to add 37 safety recommendations to the races, which ended in late September with Oracle Team USA successfully defending its title.

            A San Francisco police investigation into the death remains open because investigators still must examine the autopsy report, said police spokesman Officer Albie Esparza.
            " I just found out my nest egg has salmonella"

   Photo Gallery


            • #7