A time of quiet reflection for Clipper fleet following death of a crew member

Racing has taken a back seat over the past 24 hours for the Clipper Race fleet following the tragedy on board CV30 (GREAT Britain) yesterday.

Speaking on the loss of round the world crew member Simon Speirs, Sanya Serenity Coast Skipper Wendy Tuck said: “The mood on board Sanya Serenity Coast, as I imagine it will be across the whole fleet, is sombre with a lot of quiet reflection going on.

“To let my crew know of the terrible accident on board CV30 is the hardest thing to do at sea. We are all shocked and terribly saddened by the incident. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to Andy Burns and his crew on board, also to all of Simon’s friends and loved ones.”

Following medical advice and considerations, Simon was given a sea burial at 0900 local time (0300 UTC) today during a service on board held by his crew. As requested by Simon’s family, who were fully aware and came together to follow the order of service at the same time back home, it was Christian, and the rest of the Clipper Race fleet also joined them in solidarity as the service was carried out.

HotelPlanner.com Skipper, Conall Morrison, said: “We prepared some readings and held a moment’s silence together as a crew on deck at the same time as the service. Our thoughts and prayers are with the GREAT Britain team. Three of our current crew will be joining the team in Fremantle and those that knew Simon Speirs on board talk of what a gentle giant he was.”

On behalf of the entire Clipper Race office, we thank everyone who has sent messages of condolence and support for Simon’s family, friends, crew, the fleet and the Clipper Race team.

Across the fleet, the sky appears to be a relatively clear on this day of reflection and the wind will gradually veer and continue easing.

Sanya Serenity Coast continues to lead the fleet with just over 1,000 nautical miles to go to Fremantle and has completed the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint – results will be announced after all teams have done so.

PSP Logistics has also completed the Elliot Brown Ocean Sprint but Skipper Matt Mitchell’s  thoughts are very much with Simon Speirs’ family and friends saying: “The wonderful thing about the Clipper Race is that in times of trial, as well as times of celebration, there are no longer individual teams but one big family of people, all pulling together as a group. At this most trying of times the solidarity of the Clipper Race family will be there to offer any and all support that is needed.”

Visit Seattle Skipper, Nikki Henderson, added: “I'm not sure if it is much respite to know he was doing what he loved – this ocean must be one of the most magical, and yet treacherous places in the world.” 

Qingdao entered Stealth Mode yesterday at 1800 UTC, as planned, and Skipper Chris Kobusch reports: “Last night saw lots of rain squalls coming through, in which the wind speeds exceeded 45 knots at times. With the squalls came some of the biggest seas we had experienced so far.

“Our deep thoughts are with his family and Andy Burns and his team. We wish you a safe and fast passage to Fremantle and we will be there to support you.”

Meanwhile, Garmin Skipper Gaëtan Thomas has also been sending words of support while continuing to look after crew member, Erik Hellstrom, who is dealing with a serious abdominal condition. An aircraft medical supplies drop was successfully carried out by the Royal Australian Air Force and Gaëtan reports: “Erik is 24 hours under supervision. We are doing everything we can for him.”

The team is continuing to prepare for a medevac and further updates will be provided on the Clipper Race website.

Read more on the Skipper Reports and Crew Blogs available on the Team Pages.

For the latest positions of the fleet today, please see the Clipper Race Viewer.

All data correct at time of writing.

VIEW THE RACE POSITIONS HERE 

 

Clipper Venture's report on theincident follows:

We are 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 0814UTC (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. 

A burial at sea was performed and the boat is now heading for Fremantle.

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