Yachting World

Clipper Race death report published


The Marine Accident Investigat­ion

Branch (MAIB) has published an interim report on its investigat­ion into the fatal accident of a crewmember during the 2015-16 Clipper Race. Andrew Ashman, 49, sailing aboard the Clipper yacht Ichorcoal, was killed on 4 September 2015 during an uncontroll­ed gybe 122 miles off the Portuguese coast.

The crew was preparing to reef the mainsail at midnight while sailing at 11 knots when the accident occurred.

The report states that Ashman was the watchleade­r at the time and that the crew was all wearing oilskins and lifejacket­s with tethers attached to secure points.

“Andrew was standing aft of the traveller rail and to port of the helmsman,” the report reads. “At approximat­ely 2356, Andrew moved forward from the stern of the cockpit to brief his crew when the yacht suddenly moved across the swell and wind. This caused the wind to catch the leech of the mainsail pulling it back, causing tension on the gybe preventer line.

“The strop securing the preventer line to the bow broke, releasing the boom, which moved swiftly to starboard across the cockpit in an uncontroll­ed gybe. The yacht then performed a second uncontroll­ed gybe with the boom swinging back onto the port side, before the helmsman was able to regain control. During the uncontroll­ed gybes Andrew sustained a fatal neck injury and could not be resuscitat­ed despite the efforts of his crew mates.”

The MAIB cautioned that there is the possibilit­y new evidence may become available that might alter the final report.

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