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Andrew Simpson (sailor)

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Andrew Simpson
Personal information
Born(1976-12-17)17 December 1976
Chertsey, Surrey, England
Died9 May 2013(2013-05-09) (aged 36)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Height185 cm (6 ft 1 in)[1]
Weight104 kg (229 lb)
ClubHunters Hill Sailing Club, Woolwich[1]
Medal record
Representing  Great Britain
Olympic Games
Gold medal – first place 2008 Beijing Star
Silver medal – second place 2012 London Star
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 2010 Rio de Janeiro Star
Silver medal – second place 2012 Hyères Star
Bronze medal – third place 2003 Cadiz Finn
Bronze medal – third place 2007 Cascais Star
European Championships
Silver medal – second place 2001 Malcesine Finn
Silver medal – second place 2009 Kiel Star
Bronze medal – third place 2007 Malcesine Star
Updated on 10 May 2013.

Andrew James "Bart" Simpson, MBE (17 December 1976 – 9 May 2013), was an English sailor who won a gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, as crew for skipper Iain Percy in the Star class representing Great Britain. Simpson died in the capsize of the catamaran he was crewing on 9 May 2013, while training for the America's Cup in San Francisco Bay.[2]


Simpson and Iain Percy competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics

Simpson started his competitive sailing career in the Laser class, before switching to the heavier Finn class.[3][4] He claimed the bronze medal at the 2003 ISAF Sailing World Championships in Cadiz in the Finn class; his training partner Ben Ainslie took the gold, with Great Britain topping the medal table.[5] He sailed with +39 Challenge in the 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup.

Simpson then moved to the two-man Star class, partnering lifelong friend Iain Percy; they won a bronze medal at the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships in Cascais to qualify for the 2008 Summer Olympics.[3][6] The pair won the gold medal in Beijing in the Star class.[7] After winning the Olympic gold, Percy and Simpson took a break from Star sailing and were in the TeamORIGIN afterguard for the 2010 America's Cup.[8] In 2010, he and Percy won the Star World Championships in Rio de Janeiro.[9]

Simpson and Percy made the podium in every meeting of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in 2012, including gold at the Hyeres French World Cup regatta.[10] They competed at the 2012 Olympic Games, again in the Star class, failing to defend their title despite being in the lead throughout the competition, but winning the silver medal.[11][12][13] After the Star class was removed from the Olympic sailing disciplines, Simpson turned his attention to the America's Cup, moving to San Francisco to train in March 2013.[6] He was known for his athleticism, and for his attention to detail in preparing the boat to obtain the best possible performance.[13]


Simpson was killed on 9 May 2013, during training for the 34th America's Cup, when the Swedish Artemis Racing team yacht he was aboard capsized near Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay.[2] The yacht, a 72-foot catamaran with a rigid, wing-like sail, was turning downwind (bearing away) when it flipped over and broke into pieces. Simpson was trapped underneath its hulls for approximately ten minutes, and attempts to revive him by doctors afloat and subsequently ashore were unsuccessful.[14][15][16][17] The cause of the accident is unknown.[17] An investigation was initiated by the United States Coast Guard which involved San Francisco police and the America's Cup management.[16][18]

John Derbyshire, performance director of the Royal Yachting Association, described Simpson as "a huge inspiration to others, both within the British Sailing Team and across the nation".[19] Other tributes were paid by fellow sailors Ainslie and Percy, Olympian sport shooter, Peter Wilson, British Olympic Association's director of elite performance, Clive Woodward, and British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, amongst others.[6][16] His funeral was held at Sherborne Abbey in his home town of Sherborne in Dorset.[20]

Safety review[edit]

In the aftermath of the accident, safety concerns were raised over the new AC72 class of yachts which had been chosen to compete in the 2013 America's Cup. This was the second accident involving the class; in October 2012 an Oracle Team USA AC72 also capsized in San Francisco Bay during training, causing substantial damage but no serious injuries.[16][21] Christopher Clarey, writing in The New York Times, described the class as "high-speed and high-risk."[21] Stephen Park, who heads the British Olympic sailing team, commented: "they're very high powered and the loads on them are huge ... these boats are untrodden waters for sailing. A lot of the loads and a lot of the equipment is new and there are a lot of unknowns and things being tested."[16] Sailing journalist Stuart Alexander, writing in The Independent, stated that the AC72s are seen by some as "death traps."[18] In early June 2013, it was announced that the programme of events for the 2013 America's Cup would be significantly reduced in response to Simpson's death.[22] Later that month, a review committee presented 37 proposed modifications to the event to an international jury which the committee deemed necessary to be fulfilled in order for the event to go ahead altogether.[23]


Simpson was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Born in Windlesham, Surrey in 1976,[2] where he lived and moved to Sherborne.[4][25] He first learned to sail aged four or five, while visiting his grandparents at Christchurch, Dorset, and later sailed in a Seafly dinghy with his father, Keith.[2][3][13] His talent brought him to the notice of Jim Saltonstall, who coached him in the Royal Yachting Association youth squad.[2][13] Simpson attended Pangbourne College, a mixed boarding school in Berkshire, which originated as a nautical college, coaching students in sailing, seamanship and navigation.[13][26] He studied at University College London, gaining a degree in economics.[2][13] In addition to sailing, he was a keen footballer.[26]

Affectionately known as "Bart", after the character Bart Simpson, from the American animated series The Simpsons.[27] Simpson was described as having "steely determination and focus" but being "diplomatic, softly spoken".[6] He is survived by his wife Leah and their two sons, Freddie and Hamish.[13]

Bart's Bash[edit]

Bart's Bash is a fund-raising event organised by the Andrew Simpson Foundation in memory of Andrew (Bart). Launched in 2014, it is the world's largest sailing event. Its main aims are to increase international awareness of sailing, and to raise funds for supporting sustainable projects and improving the lives of children. The first Bart's Bash inspired over 700 sailing clubs from more than 60 countries to organise individual Bart's Bash races at their locations. In January 2015, Bart's Bash was awarded a Guinness World Record for staging the largest sailing race in 24 hours.[28]


  1. ^ a b Andrew Simpson.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Andrew Simpson". The Daily Telegraph. London. 10 May 2013. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Harris, Dominic (10 May 2013). "Andrew Simpson: A landlocked lad who caught the sailing bug". The Independent. London. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  4. ^ a b "Andrew Simpson: A landlocked lad who fell in love with sailing". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  5. ^ "Britain top medal table". BBC Sport. BBC. 28 September 2003. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d "Andrew Simpson: Tributes for Olympic sailor killed in accident". BBC Sport. BBC. 10 May 2013. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  7. ^ Bingham, John; Knapton, Sarah (21 August 2008). "Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson take sailing gold for Britain in Beijing Olympics". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  8. ^ "Andrew Simpson". Artemis Racing. Archived from the original on 28 June 2013. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  9. ^ "Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson win Star worlds in Rio". BBC Sport. BBC. 21 January 2010. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  10. ^ "Andrew Simpson". Royal Yachting Association. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  11. ^ "Andrew Simpson – Sailing – Olympic Athlete". London 2012. Archived from the original on 28 July 2012. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
  12. ^ "Men's Star – Olympic Sailing". London 2012. Archived from the original on 28 January 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2013.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Fisher, Bob (11 May 2013). "Andrew Simpson obituary: British sailor who won gold with Iain Percy at the Beijing Olympics". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
  14. ^ Carroll, Rory (10 May 2013). "British sailor and Olympian Andrew Simpson dies after yacht capsizes". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  15. ^ "Andrew Simpson, UK Olympic Champion, Dies". Sky News. 10 May 2013. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  16. ^ a b c d e "Andrew Simpson: America's Cup chiefs to investigate capsize". BBC Sport. BBC. 10 May 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
  17. ^ a b Carroll, Rory; Siddique, Haroon (10 May 2013). "Andrew Simpson: sailing community pays tribute to Olympic gold medallist". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 May 2013.
  18. ^ a b Alexander, Stuart (10 May 2013). "Stuart Alexander on Andrew 'Bart' Simpson tragedy: Some see these super-powerful 72-foot catamarans as death traps". The Independent. London. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  19. ^ "Andrew Simpson, GB Olympian, dies as America's Cup boat capsizes". BBC News. BBC. 10 May 2013. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  20. ^ "Andrew Simpson funeral to be held at Sherborne Abbey". BBC News. BBC. 22 May 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  21. ^ a b Clarey, Christopher (9 May 2013). "Olympian dies in America's Cup training after yacht flips". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  22. ^ Alexander, Stuart (8 June 2013). "America's Cup cuts challenger race programme following death of Andrew Simpson". The Independent. London. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  23. ^ Alexander, Stuart (19 June 2013). "Doubts over America's Cup after death of Olympic gold medallist Andrew Simpson". The Independent. London. Retrieved 27 June 2013.
  24. ^ "No. 58929". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2008. p. 22.
  25. ^ "Simpson, Andrew". Beijing 2008. Archived from the original on 3 September 2008. Retrieved 21 August 2008.
  26. ^ a b "Welcome to World Regattas – Sailing and Regatta Event Schedules and Information". Retrieved 9 May 2013.
  27. ^ Jeffery, Tim (23 June 2008). "Qingdao to weed out problems". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 6 March 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2008.
  28. ^ Bart’s Bash.

External links[edit]