A German youth sailing team has announced it is withdrawing from the upcoming America’s Cup regatta in the wake of the death last week of a sailor on a separate team.
Andrew “Bart” Simpson, a member of Sweden-based Artemis Racing, died after his team’s 72-foot boat capsized during a practice run in the Bay at about 1 p.m. Thursday.
Sailing Team Germany’s youth team, which was slated to compete in the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup from Sept. 1-4, announced over the weekend that it was pulling out of the competition after Simpson’s death.
Team managing director Oliver Schwall said in a statement that he hoped the death would prompt race officials to “thoroughly rethink” the format and equipment used in the races.
The youth teams, comprised of sailors ages 19 to 24, use 45-foot catamarans rather than the larger 72-foot ones that will be used by the older sailors in races that start in July with the Louis Vuitton Cup and end in the America’s Cup Finals from Sept. 7-21.
One youth team, the San Francisco-based American Youth Sailing Force, already capsized their 45-foot boat during a practice run earlier this month, while Oracle Team USA had their 72-foot boat heavily damaged and swept out to sea in a capsizing last October.
No one was injured in either of those incidents.
America’s Cup officials are meeting Tuesday in San Francisco to discuss how the races should move forward following Simpson’s death.
Officials haven’t yet released specifics about the time and location of the meeting, but said it would include members of Oracle Team USA, Artemis Racing, Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Challenge—all four teams competing in the races with the 72-foot boats.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said today he was also waiting to hear from race organizers about what, if any, changes might be made to the regatta and said he shared their concerns about the safety of the sailors.
Lee said, “I’m going to be working very hard to continue making sure this event is both safe and successful.”
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News