Andrew Ashman, a British sailor in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, has died after being knocked unconscious while sailing approximately 120 miles off the coast of Portugal. His boat was heading south on the first leg of the race, bound for Brazil.
Sailing for team IchorCoal, Andrew Ashman was reefing in the main sail in moderate seas and a strong Force 6 breeze when he was hit by the mainsheet – and possibly the boom, according to an official statement by Clipper. Ashman was knocked unconscious, and although medical assistance and resuscitation was provided immediately, he never regained consciousness.
A democratic sailing race, the Cipper Round the World Yacht Race is designed to attract participants from all walks of life and sailing skill levels. Andrew Ashman, 49, worked as a paramedic in Orpington, Kent, UK but was an “experienced yachtsman” according to race officials.
This is the first death in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race’s nearly 20 year history.
Legendary sailor and Clipper Race Founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said, “This is extremely sad news and my heart goes out to his bereaved family and friends, and to his fellow crew who have come to know Andrew with great affection during his training and the early days of this race. Safety is always our utmost priority, as our record shows, and we shall investigate the incident immediately in full cooperation with the authorities.”
IchorCoal diverted to northern Portugal after the incident. On September 6, 2015 at 1pm local time, the entire Clipper fleet observed a moment of silence to honour their fallen sailor.
The crew of IchorCoal have decided to keep on sailing the race, as Skipper Darren Ladd explains, “It’s partly out of respect for Andy that we want to carry on, and partly a way that as a team we can deal with what’s happened. I think the only way we can all deal with it is to jump back on the boat and get back sailing and do it with Andy in our hearts and minds at the same time.”