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Crewmember Drowns in Clipper Race

While racing from South Africa to Fremantle, Australia, the Clipper Race entry GREAT Britain lost a crewmember overboard. On Saturday, November 18, Simon Speirs, from Bristol, UK, was on the bow helping with a headsail change when he was swept overboard. He was clipped in with his tether, as all crew are required to be, but, somehow, in rough seas and 20 knots of wind gusting to 40, he became separated from the boat.

The 70-ft GREAT Britain splashes through a wave.

© onEdition

All Clipper Race sailors are well trained in safety procedures, including crew-overboard recovery. Speirs’ shipmates brought him back on board in 36 minutes, and he was given CPR; medically trained crew on GREAT Britain include a GP. But Speirs never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead.

Simon Speirs was a 60-year-old retired lawyer with 40 years of sailing experience.

© 2017 Clipper Race

A highly experienced sailor, Speirs had signed up for the entire eight-leg circumnavigation. He was buried at sea yesterday, with a Christian service as requested by his family.

In a show of support, Unicef made the decision to sail toward GREAT Britain. Unicef skipper Bob Beggs said: “Overnight we could make out GREAT Britain on the AIS and had a quick chat with skipper Andy Burns. We offered any assistance they might need, but they are self-sufficient and resuming racing. Our thoughts are with them.”

The Clipper Race fleet is sailing through big seas and high winds in the Southern Ocean.

© 2017 Clipper Race

PSP Logistics is leading the fleet of 11 one-design monohulls in Race 3, the Southern Ocean Leg, with Visit Seattle in second place. Sanya Serenity was leading before going into ‘stealth mode’. Dare to Lead is leading the race overall. Harmon Shragge of San Francisco, whom we profiled in the September issue of Latitude 38, is currently sailing aboard Garmin. The fleet is expected to begin arriving in Fremantle tomorrow. See

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What happens in Vegas might stay in Vegas. But not at Latitude. Longtime readers will know we’ve been pretty forthcoming about mistakes, screw-ups and bloopers (which can be one and the same, but not always).