Bristol

Bristol sailor dies in Clipper Round the World Race

Simon Speirs Image copyright Clipper
Image caption Simon Speirs is believed to have drowned after he was swept overboard during rough seas.

A sailor has died after being swept overboard in a "tragic" accident during an international yacht race.

Simon Speirs, 60, from Bristol, was taking part in the Clipper Round the World Race leg from South Africa to Australia.

Organisers said the retired solicitor, who was wearing a life jacket, was washed over the side during gale force winds on Saturday.

Mr Speirs, described a sensible and popular chap, has been buried at sea.

Race co-founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston described him as an experienced sailor and said that "it is absolutely tragic to lose someone like this".

"I just feel for his family. Here he was fulfilling his dream and then it has turned into a nightmare for them," he added.

Image copyright onEdition

According to a statement from Clipper, Mr Speirs was sailing for Great Britain on board the CV30, which was in sixth place and had reached the Indian Ocean.

The sailor, who had more than 40 years' dinghy experience, was washed off the deck by the wind.

Mr Speirs then became separated from the boat which was in the Southern Ocean, in what were rough seas with 20 knots of wind and gusts at 40.

The rest of the crew is believed to be safe and heading for Fremantle in Australia. Clipper said an investigation would be carried out.

The 12 racing yachts set off from Liverpool in August. The death of Mr Speirs is the third in the 21-year history of the Clipper race.

During the last race in 2015, Andrew Ashman, 49, from Kent, died from a fatal neck injury. His death was the first in the race's history.

It was followed in April last year by the death of Sarah Young, 40, from London, who was un-tethered and washed off the deck.

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