According to a statement by the race organizer, Simon Speirs, a crew member on board the CV30 yacht, was washed overboard on Saturday in the Southern Ocean while on passage from Cape Town, South Africa to Fremantle, Australia.
“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 0814UTC (1414 local time) in a rough sea state, in 20 knots of wind, gusting 40,” the statement said.
Speirs was recovered within 36 minutes of going overboard, but the crew was unable to revive him.
The incident occurred on Day 18 in Race 3 of the 13 stage Clipper Race. The yacht, which was in sixth place, had approximately 1,500 miles left to its destination.
Speirs was said to be a highly experienced sailor with “over 40 years dinghy experience and a Coastal Skipper licence”.
“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,” the statement from the organizer said.
The cause of death is unconfirmed at this time but thought to be by drowning, the statement added. All others on board the yacht are reported safe.
The UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch has launched an investigation into the accident.
Speir’s death is the third in the race’s 21-year history. In 2015, a Kent man was killed after suffering from a neck injury. And in 2016, a London women was killed after she swept overboard while untethered.