Tributes have been paid to two-time Olympic sailing medallist Andrew Simpson, who died during training for the America’s Cup in San Francisco.
Simpson, who won Star class gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics with Iain Percy and silver in the same event at London 2012, was trapped underwater after the 72-foot Artemis catamaran, racing under Swedish colours, capsized.
“Yesterday I lost my closest friend of over 25 years, the friendliest and kindest man I have ever met. I cannot believe he is no longer with us," said Percy, with whom Simpson also won the world title with in 2010.
“Now all our thoughts should be with his wife and two amazing boys who meant the world to him. Andrew has more friends than anyone and we will continue to support his family with all our hearts.”
John Derbyshire, performance director of the Royal Yachting Association, described Simpson, widely known by his nickname Bart, as an inspiration.
“We’re devastated by the news from San Francisco,” he said. “Andrew is someone I’ve worked closely with since the age of 16.
“He was a great talent and a key figure in our World Class Programme over many years culminating in his well-deserved Olympic success.
“He was a huge inspiration to others, both within the British Sailing Team and across the nation and our deepest sympathies go out to his family at this terrible time.”
British Olympic team-mates, including gold medallists Helen Glover and Greg Rutherford, were quick to pay their tributes on Twitter while Stephen Park, the RYA’s Olympic manager, added Simpson was ‘a fantastic sailor who got the best out of everyone he sailed with’.
Meanwhile a statement from the British Olympic Association read: “We are devastated to hear about the tragic training accident in San Francisco which led to the loss of Olympian Andrew Simpson’s life.
“Andrew was a treasured and accomplished member of Team GB, both at the home Olympics in London 2012, where he won silver with childhood friend Iain Percy in the Star class, and at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, where he won the gold medal also sailing alongside Iain.
“Andrews’s talent and humour was an inspiration to others and he will be sorely missed by the Olympic Family. Our heartfelt condolences are with Andrew's family, friends and fellow athletes during this very difficult time.”
Simpson, 36, was born in Surrey and lived in Dorset, though had recently relocated to California to join the Swedish America’s Cup team, where he was working as a strategist.
“The entire team is devastated by what happened,” said Artemis chief executive Paul Cayard, a sailing world champion and America’s Cup veteran.
“Our heartfelt condolences are with Andrew’s wife and family.”
© Sportsbeat 2013