Clipper Race death: Sarah Young buried at sea

Sarah Young

An amateur British sailor who died after being swept into the Pacific Ocean while competing in a yacht race has been buried at sea, organisers say.

Sarah Young, 40, was washed overboard while taking part in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. Her body was later recovered by her crewmates.

The ceremony took place at 01:00 BST on Sunday, with readings including the poem Sea Fever by John Masefield.

A minute's silence was held by all the sailors taking part in the race.

Race founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston has promised a full investigation into her death.

He has said everyone involved in the race was in "shock" over the death of Miss Young, who was from London, adding the probe would focus on why she was not tethered to the yacht.

'An adventurer's death'

Darren Ladd, skipper of the IchorCoal yacht, said: "The crew stood on deck with all the courage and dignity we could muster, read a few of Sarah's favourite prayers and poetry, before holding a minute's silence."

The ceremony ended with the singing of a traditional Zulu song.

Mr Ladd described Miss Young as a close friend and "enthusiastic and accomplished sailor".

"She was an adventurer and lived life to the full," he said. "She died an adventurer's death battling the elements circumnavigating the globe. I wish we could have said goodbye properly, we all do."

The skipper added: "Today has been one of the hardest days of my life. Never underestimate the value of friendship and of team spirit.

"The support via email has been over-whelming and absolutely invaluable. Life is finite and often far too short."

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Tributes have been paid to Sarah Young, as Andy Moore reports

The decision to hold the ceremony at sea was made after consultation with Miss Young's partner, friends, family and crew.

The guidance to go ahead was given by a doctor, medical advisers and the Maritime Coastguard Agency because of the length of time it would take the yacht to reach land.

Sailors on the 11 other yachts taking part in the race gathered on their own vessels for a minute's silence in honour of Miss Young at the same time as the sea burial. They also heard the same readings and poems.

A minute's silence was held at midday BST by the race organisers.

Sarah Young
Sarah Young was taking part in the year-long race on the IchorCoal boat

Miss Young is the second person to die in this year's event - fellow Briton Andrew Ashman, a crew member on the same boat, died after being knocked unconscious in September.

Despite being amateurs, both Miss Young and Mr Ashman were experienced sailors.

Miss Young was tidying the cockpit of the IchorCoal yacht after reefing the mainsail when she was knocked from her position by a wave. She fell back towards the guard wire and was swept under it by another wave.

After she was recovered by crew, attempts were made to resuscitate her but she did not regain consciousness.

The cause of her death, on Friday, is yet to be confirmed but is suspected to be drowning or exposure, organisers said.

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Lucie Ward described her friend Sarah as "incredible"

Lucie Ward, who met Miss Young while training for the race, paid tribute to her "absolutely incredible" friend, saying she "always had a smile on her face".

She described her as "incredibly safety conscious", adding that no-one understood why "for that split second" she was not tethered.

'Appalling coincidence'

Sir Robin, who in 1969 became the first person to sail solo and non-stop around the world, told the BBC: "We've only had two fatalities in something like 4,000 people, in 10 races around the world.

"It's a shock to all of us and we want to find out exactly why it happened. Why wasn't she hooked on? This is what I've got to establish."

IchorCoal boat
The IchorCoal yacht, pictured, set off on the latest leg of the race on 21 March

Miss Young was one of the sailors taking part in the entire round-the-world challenge.

The incident happened during the ninth race of the 14-stage event which started in August and covers more than 40,000 nautical miles.

Sarah Young

She had already sailed more than half way round the globe, covering 20,000 nautical miles before setting off from the latest leg of the race on 21 March.

Miss Young was the owner of a personal lifestyle company and prior to the Clipper Race had taken part in other expeditions, including mountaineering in Nepal. She had also run a marathon and was a qualified diving group leader.

'Heartbroken'

Other sailors taking part in the race paid tribute.

Max Stunell, skipper of the PSP Logistics yacht, said: "Our hearts go out to Sarah's loved ones as well as Skipper Darren and the IchorCoal crew who tried so desperately to save her."

Daniel Smith, skipper of Derry-Londonderry-Doire, said: "No words can capture the sadness we all feel at the loss of a fellow 'Clipperati' - a true adventurer by all accounts."

Former teammate Louise Thomas said she was "heartbroken", describing Miss Young as her "boat wife" and "best buddy".

Fellow IchorCoal crew member Elliotte Ashcroft wrote on Facebook that Miss Young was a "witty, ballsy, caring lady".

Clipper Race map
The boats are currently racing in the north Pacific, which is where Young was swept overboard

The latest stage of the race takes crews from Qingdao in China to Seattle in the United States.

More than 700 crew members are participating in the 2015-16 race, which will end in London on 30 July.

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