On Thursday, the British sailor Andrew "Bart" Simpson drowned when Artemis' high-tech catamaran capsized and trapped him underwater for more than 10 minutes while on a practice run in the San Francisco Bay during the America's Cup.
Simpson had already garnered an Olympic gold medal in sailing in 2008 and a silver at last year's games when Artemis Racing came calling with a chance to win yachting's top prize — the America's Cup.
"Moving the family to San Fran for 6 months is pretty hectic!!!," Simpson tweeted in March. "The cup should be fun though!!"
Simpson, 36, served as the Swedish team's strategist.
"The entire Artemis team is devastated by what happened," CEO Paul Cayard said in a statement on the team's website. "Our heartfelt condolences are with Andrew's wife and family."
Cayard didn't take questions during a brief news conference Thursday evening and didn't return telephone calls.
The British Olympic Association described Simpson as a "treasured and accomplished member" of its teams.
"Andrew Simpson was a hugely accomplished sailor and Olympian," International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, a former Olympic sailor from Belgium, said in a statement to The Associated Press. "He died pursuing his sporting passion and our thoughts are naturally with his family and friends and of course his fellow crew members who must be devastated by this tragic accident."
British newspapers reported that Simpson is survived by a wife and an infant child.
Artemis Racing said doctors "afloat" with the team and on shore were unable to revive Simpson after he was freed from the wreckage. The other sailor suffered minor injuries, and the rest of the crew of about a dozen people was accounted for and taken back to their dock in Alameda.
Officials said winds were blowing between 15 and 20 knots (17 to 23 mph) when the boat capsized. The National Weather Service later issued a small-craft advisory, warning inexperienced mariners to stay off the bay and indicating winds of between 21 knots and 33 knots.
The Artemis boat flipped near Treasure Island, which is bisected by the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge. The armada of rescue boats and helicopters were visible from the roadway.
Simpson and the unidentified injured sailor were brought to shore at the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco, where paramedics performed CPR on Simpson. He was pronounced dead a short time later.
This is the second time a sailor has died during training for the America's Cup. In 1999, Martin Wizner of the Spanish Challenge died almost instantly when he was hit in the head by a broken piece of equipment.
No deaths have been recorded during the actual racing since its inception in 1851.
Simpson and his partner Iain Percy won an Olympic gold medal for England in 2008 in the Star class of sailing. The duo was expected to repeat in London in 2012 but was upset by a Swedish team and settled for silver.
Percy is Artemis' director and the boat's tactician. The team announced Feb. 23 that Simpson was joining Artemis to "provide weather and tactics support" to the crew.
Artemis Racing has had its share of upheaval in the buildup to the 34th America's Cup. Late last year, skipper Terry Huthinson of Annapolis, Md., was released. He was replaced by Nathan Outteridge of Australia, who won a gold medal at the London Olympics.
The team has had technical problems, as well. Last fall, Artemis said the front beam of its AC72 catamaran was damaged during structural tests, delaying the boat's christening. A year ago, Artemis' AC72 wing sail sustained serious damage while it was being tested on a modified trimaran in Valencia, Spain.
This also wasn't the first America's Cup boat to capsize on the hard-blowing San Francisco Bay. Oracle's $10 million boat capsized in 25-knot winds in October, and strong tides swept it four miles past the Golden Gate Bridge. No one was injured, but the rough waters destroyed the 131-foot wing sail, and the boat was sidelined until a new sail shipped from New Zealand was installed in February.
Stephen Barclay, CEO of the America's Cup Event Authority, said officials were investigating Thursday's accident. He said it was unclear what effect the death will have on the America' Cup races, which are scheduled to run from July to September.
It was too soon to answer questions about the safety of the high-tech boats on the San Francisco Bay, Barclay said.
"Obviously a catamaran is more prone to capsizing than a mono-hull," he said. "Whether boats are safe or unsafe, we're not going to speculate on those things."
In addition to sailors wearing crash helmets and life vests, chase boats carry doctors and divers, Barclay said.
"There are lots of precautions that are taken, and some of those are as a result of Oracle's mishap last year," he said.
The boats participating in the latest America's Cup more resemble a space craft than the traditional sloops that historically competed for the trophy.
Financed by billionaire Larry Ellison, Oracle Team USA won the 2010 cup and made several changes to the races this year in an attempt to make the staid competition more fan- and TV-friendly.
While much faster and more exciting than the sloops, the catamarans have proved hard to handle. The wing sail looks and acts like an airplane wing, improving the yacht's speed and maneuverability. The 7-ton boat's hulls are lifted out of the water and it skims along the waves on "foils," reducing the drag on the boat and increasing speed dramatically.
Coast Guard Lt. Jeannie Crump said the agency did not know the extent of the damage to the Artemis boat. A commercial salvage boat would tow the vessel to Clipper Cove, between Yerba Buena Island and Treasure Island, Crump said.
She added that Coast Guard officials weren't sure what caused the boat to capsize. The Swedish team has two boats, she said.
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- Sammy Wanjiru, the Kenyan athlete won the gold medal in the Beijing 2008 marathon with an Olympic record. In 2011, at 24, he died after falling off the balcony in his home as he tried to escape when his wife found him with another woman. Photo: Getty images
- Miklos Feher, the Hungarian player died during a match on January 25, 2004, when he was only 25 years old. Photo: Getty images
- Erica Blasberg, the 25-year old golfer died in his home in las Vegas in 2011. Her body was found with a plastic bag around her head. She presented traces of medicine for coughing, pain, and anxiety. Photo: Getty images
- Dani Jarque, central defender for Espanyol in Spain, died in 2009 at the age of 26 of a heart attack. Photo: Getty images
- Antonio Puerta, left winger for Sevilla, died on August 28,2007 at just 22-years old when he had a heart attack during a game against Getafe. Photo: Getty images
- Pablo Hernan Gomez, former player for Pachuca. On January 20, 2011 the player died in a car crash while traveling to San Luis. Photo: Mexsport
- Chris Henry of the Cincinnati Bengals died at the age of 26 after falling out of the back of a moving truck in 2009 while engaged in a domestic dispute with his fiance. Photo: Getty Images
- Brian Piccolo played only four years in the NFL with the Chicago Bears before dying at the age of 27 of cancer. Photo: Getty Images
- Safety Sean Taylor was killed at his Florida home when he was only 24 years old. Photo: Getty Images
- Ricky Bell died when he was 29 years old of heart failure caused by the disease dermatomyositis, which caught the Heisman trophy candidate's career after just five years in the NFL. Photo: Getty Images
- Former Eagles and University of Miami defensive end Jerome Brown died in a car accident at the age of 27 after just five years in the league. Photo: Getty Images
- Len Bias died of a drug overdose two days after being drafted by the Boston Celtics as the second overall pick in the 1986 draft. Photo: Getty Images
- Lou Gehrig died at the age of 38 of the disease (ALS) that now bears his name. Photo: Getty Images
- Diego Corrales, a world featherweight champion, died in a car crash in 2007 at the age of 30. Photo: Getty Images
- Arturo Gatti died under mysterious circumstances, though it has officially been ruled a suicide. His wife, whose purse was found with blood, had initially been charged with his death. Gatti was 37 at the time of his death. Photo: Getty Images
- Sonny Liston is another boxer to make the list. Liston was found dead by his wife in their Las Vegas house in 1971 when he was 38 years old. His death was ruled a heroine overdose, though many still believe he was killed by the mob. Photo: g
- Norwegian swimmer Alexander Dale Oen died in training while preparing for the London 2012 games at the age of 27. He died of a heart attack connected to a coronary heart disease. Photo: Getty Images