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Simpson's Tragic Death Stuns Sailing Community

May 10, 2013 – San Francisco Bay


(Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Sausalito diver Tim Sell captured this photo of Artemis Racing's AC72 as it was being towed to Clipper Cove. Note the port ama sheared off just forward of the aft crossbeam and rudder. © 2017 Tim Sell / www.sausalitodiving.com

Yesterday's death of two-time Olympian Andrew 'Bart' Simpson stunned America's Cup enthusiasts both here in the Bay Area and around the world. As has been widely reported, the 36-year-old British sailor was pinned beneath the wreckage of a capsized Artemis Racing AC72 catamaran, where he apparently drowned.


Well-liked, two-time Olympian Bart Simpson will be sorely missed by all who knew him. © 2017 Sander van der Borch

The tragedy occurred at roughly 1 p.m. yesterday while the team was performing routine practice maneuvers in the Central Bay. It's important to note that this was the team's first boat, which was not designed with the revolutionary hydrofoils that have been dominating AC news lately.

Immediately after the capsize, VHF channel 16 radio transmissions announced that one crewman was unaccounted for. By the time Simpson was discovered beneath the wreckage and pulled free, roughly 10 minutes had passed. Once retrieved, the lifeless crewman was rushed ashore, where paramedics administered CPR to him on the St. Francis YC docks. Despite their best efforts, however, they could not revive him.

Although Artemis Racing has not yet released an official statement on the sequence of events involved in the cat's catastrophic breakup, conjecture among some analysts is that the boat suffered structural failures which caused it to capsize, rather than the opposite — a capsize causing the boat to break up — as was originally assumed by many casual observers.  


The port ama can be seen poking out from beneath the upside-down starboard ama. © 2017 Tim Sell / www.sausalitodiving.com

In a Wired Magazine online report this morning, Adam Fisher writes, "The problem was with the boat itself, either faulty engineering or faulty construction. The boat simply broke apart under sail, folded, then flipped." Although Fisher does not acknowledge his sources for these statements, photo analysis of the wreckage seems to support this theory. Undoubtedly, Artemis will eventually release a comprehensive assessment of the sequence of events, but for now the team is understandably focused on grieving for the loss of their fallen crewman. 

Simpson, who is survived by his wife Leah and two young sons, was one of the shining stars of the Artemis team, having won a silver medal in the Star class at last year's Olympics in London with Artemis's Director of Sailing, Iain Percy. The pair took gold in the Star class in 2008 at Beijing.


This file shot shows one crewman wearing his PFD outside his shirt and another wearing it inside, which has become the prevailing style on all teams. While the later style looks smart, it makes it almost impossible to jetison the PFD in a situation like Simpson's. © 2017 Sander van der Bor / Artemis Racing

While some mainstream media outlets seem eager to claim these boats — and/or racing at these speeds — is inherently dangerous, we would point out that all competing teams have undergone extensive safety training for high-speed racing in San Francisco Bay conditions, the boats are shadowed closely by chase boats whenever they sail, and all crewmen wear both helmets and lifejackets. If only Simpson had been thrown clear of the wreckage, as were his boatmates, he would still be with us today. Structural issues aside, he was tragically unlucky to have somehow ended up beneath the nets.

The entire Latitude staff joins Team Artemis in mourning the loss of this brilliant young athlete. Our hearts go out to his family and friends.

- latitude / andy

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New items in Our Chandlery

Classy Deadline the 15th


Exploding Lead-Acid Batteries

May 10, 2013 – The Sailing World


The battery in this photo is from the 65-ft sloop Blue Peter, which was built in England in 1930 from teak harvested in Thailand in 1870. She was dismasted during last month's Antigua Classic Regatta. On the way to a ship in St. Thomas that would take her to Genoa, Italy, she stopped in St. Barth for a little R&R. As the engine was turned on to leave, there was a loud bang and the battery  seen here  exploded. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. Photo Latitude / Richard
© 2017 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Lead acid batteries are used as starting and house batteries on many boats — and cars — and usually they work very well. However, on rare occasions they explode when being charged. And they can explode with such force that they blow the top right off the battery case. Sometimes such explosions can result in fires, and fires are never good on a boat.

Hydrogen and oxygen gases, both of which are highly flammable and explosive, are produced when batteries are charged. Many lead acid explosions are believed to occur when the electrolyte level gets below the level of the plates, which would allow for hydrogen/oxygen to accumulate. When the battery is engaged, it may create a spark that ignites the accumulated gases.

Two things that can be done to reduce the chance of a lead acid battery explosion are: 1) make sure there is plenty of ventilation around the battery to keep hydrogen and oxygen from accumulating, and 2) make sure the electrolyte is kept at the proper level.

Ever had a problem with an exploding lead-acid battery? If so, we'd like to hear about it.

- latitude / richard

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Ad: Niue Yacht Club

May 10, 2013 – Niue

Niue Yacht Club

© 2017 Niue Yacht Club / www.niueyachtclub.com

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Racing Preview

May 10, 2013 – California & Port Townsend, WA

El Toro racing
The El Toro Senior Series continues on Saturday. This is Michael Quinn. © 2017 / www.norcalsailing.com

The Flight of the Bulls is next up in the El Toro Senior Series this Saturday at Foster City Boat Park (Juniors are welcome too, but this is not a race for beginners). According to the class newsletter, Bull Session, "The history of the race has repeatedly presented challenging conditions ranging from slight drifting air to sudden blasting gusts of wind during the same race. Temperatures ranged from blazing hot and dehydration to rain and high winds. Some race days have drifted for a majority of the race to finish in a gale, while some started in a stiff breeze with wind building stronger as the race progressed." See www.eltoroyra.org.

You can find more small boat racing this Saturday at Lake Washington Sailing Club's One Design Series #2. An open class will be scored under the Portsmouth Rating System.

Wednesday the 15th will be the deadline to enter May 18's Singlehanded Farallones Race. Participants can sign up for a courtesy safety inspection at www.norcalorc.org. A few racers will be hailed at the finish to pull in for an equipment check. Those who've had a pre-race inspection are less likely to be 'randomly' selected. See www.sfbaysss.org.

Greg Nelsen with trophy and admirers
If you win the Singlehanded Farallones, you'll get your name engraved on this trophy, and you'll earn the admiration of other sailors. Greg Nelsen is the defending champion. © 2017 / www.norcalsailing.com

On Thursday evening, May 16, at 7 p.m., Sausalito YC will host a presentation by naval architect Jim Antrim and Cree Partridge of Berkeley Marine Center about 2015's new SF2SF Ocean Race. "Maybe you'll be enthralled and motivated to sail your own boat (40-ft and up) or buy one of the new Antrim 60-footers, or sponsor or crew one of the 'big dogs' in the event," said SYC's race chair, Bob Braid. A no-host bar and buffet will precede the talk.

The entry deadline for the Coastal Cup is Friday, May 17, at 6 p.m. The race starts on June 11 and 12 in San Francisco and finishes at a new destination this year: Marina del Rey! See www.encinal.org.

St. Francis YC's Aldo Alessio Regatta is scheduled for May 17-19. "We will be running a combination of traditional race courses as well as a Bay tour to determine the winner," said PRO John Callahan. The regatta is open to Beneteau 36.7, Cal 40, Express 37, Farr 30, J/120 and J/105 classes, as well as IRC boats of 33-ft LOA and bigger holding a 2013 IRC certificate, and PHRF boats rating 80 or lower.

Santa Cruz YC is hosting Friday night Laser races once a month, with the first one on May 17. And speaking of Santa Cruz, Ellen Kett of the Santa Cruz-based SC50 Octavia is putting together a comprehensive list of all the Santa Cruz 50s. So far, she has found 26 out of the 29 made. "We are getting all the owners on a group email for the upcoming Made in Santa Cruz Regatta," she explained, "but also so owners can connect with each other." You can reach Kett by email.

The Northwest Multihull Association is hosting their first multihull-only regatta on May 18-19 out of Point Hudson Marina and RV Park in Port Townsend, WA. A distance race and buoy racing will be held on Port Townsend Bay, the northern waters of Admiralty Inlet, and the eastern Straits of Juan de Fuca west to Protection Island. Shoreside activities are scheduled for Friday and Saturday nights. Beach cats, Weta trimarans, Farrier tris and other larger cruising and racing multihulls 14 feet and up are invited for this historic event. "We are encouraging youth crew," said John Hulburd of NWMA. See www.nwmultihull.org.

Here's a reminder that May 19's all-day Safety at Sea Seminar has been moved from Cal Maritime Academy to Berkeley YC. "This will satisify the SAS eligibility requirements for five years for PacCup, Transpac, Coastal Cup and Spinnaker Cup," says organizer Pat Lowther. "Stan Honey will be on hand to give the weather talk." You can contact Lowther at (925) 407-5507, or go to pacificcup.org/seminars/2013sas for details and to sign up.

- latitude / chris

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Doo Dah Party Tonight

May 10, 2013 – Berkeley YC

If you're planning a trip up to the Delta this summer — on your own or with your yacht club — be sure to register for the Delta Doo Dah DIY. It's free, date-flexible, and allows you to take advantage of great discounts along the way. 

Then be sure to drop by Berkeley YC tonight from 5:30-8:30 for the Doo Dah Kick-Off Party, where you can meet other Doo Dah'ers and hear a couple of awesome speakers. Anyone is welcome but only registered Doo Dah'ers are eligible for prizes. So what are you waiting for? Go HERE to sign up!

- latitude / ladonna

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Ad: Sale Boat of the Day

May 10, 2013 – Sausalito, CA

Hanse 341

Hanse 334 'iliohale
Click on the photo to view the complete listing online.
© 2017 Bearmark Yachts

The boat is perfect. The detailed quality of fit and finish is far above what you will see in production sailboats of recent years. The owner of this beautiful sailboat has upgraded the boat with an open checkbook since purchasing in 2007. This is one of the most completely equipped boats of this size on SF Bay, and it is one of the cleanest boats you have ever seen. Detailed log-book with maintenance records is aboard as well as all equipment manuals. Note additions and equipment upgrades since 2007.

Contact Central Listing agent John Saul at (415) 332-6585 or by email.

Bearmark Yachts logo

© 2017 Bearmark Yachts

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