Clipper Ventures is extremely saddened today to report the fatality of Simon Speirs, a crew member on board CV30, (GREAT Britain).
Simon, 60, from Bristol, UK, was on the foredeck assisting with a headsail change from Yankee 3 when he was washed overboard. Although he was clipped on with his safety tether, he became separated from the yacht in the Southern Ocean at approximately 0814 UTC (1414 local time) in a rough sea state, in 20 knots of wind, gusting 40.
The team’s man overboard recovery training kicked into immediate effect and despite the rough conditions, Simon was recovered back on board by the Skipper and crew within 36 minutes, at which point CPR was immediately administered by three medically trained crew, which included a GP. However Simon sadly never regained consciousness and was pronounced deceased at 0925UTC. The cause of death is unconfirmed at this time but thought to be by drowning.
All other crew are reported safe and are being supported remotely by the Race Office.
The incident occurred on Day 18 in Race 3 of the 13 stage Clipper Race. The fleet was racing from South Africa to Australia. The yacht, which was in sixth place, currently has approximately 1,500 miles left to its destination.
At the time of the incident, Simon was clipped on, wearing his lifejacket, which included an AIS beacon, as well as approved waterproof ocean oilskins. A full investigation will now be carried out, as is standard practice, into the full details of the incident, including the reasons his safety tether did not keep him on board, in cooperation with the appropriate authorities.
A member of the crew since Race Start in the UK on August 20, 2017, Simon was a highly experienced sailor with over 40 years dinghy experience and a Coastal Skipper licence.
He also successfully completed the Clipper Race Coxswain Certificate (CRCC) in February this year in anticipation of his challenge. Designed in collaboration with the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA), and the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) specifically for the Clipper Race, this involved an intensive two-week course, in addition to the four weeks of compulsory training that all Clipper Race crew must complete which concentrates on safety at sea.
All Clipper Race crew, regardless of previous sailing experience, complete a compulsory and intensive four-week training programme before joining the race which covers all aspects of safety at sea, including repeated man overboard training drills, which are also repeated in race stopovers.
Simon’s next of kin have been informed and our deepest thoughts are with his family and all those who knew him.
The yacht is currently making best speed to Fremantle, Australia, and we’ll provide further updates as we have them.