Orpington paramedic dies in Clipper Round The World yacht race

Andrew Ashman Image copyright
Image caption Yachtsman Andrew Ashman was aboard the IchorCoal boat when he was knocked unconscious

A paramedic from south-east London has died taking part in the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race.

Andrew Ashman was adjusting the sail of his team's boat when he was knocked unconscious. Organisers said he failed to regain consciousness, despite resuscitation attempts.

It happened about 120 nautical miles off the Portuguese coast at 00:00 local time.

Mr Ashman's death is the first fatality in the history of the race.

'Extremely sad'

Mr Ashman, 49, an amateur sailor, was aboard the IchorCoal boat, which has been diverted to northern Portugal where it is expected to arrive in the early hours of Sunday.

Race organisers said Mr Ashman was struck as he adjusted the mainsheet - a rope connected to the boom - as the boat was heading south towards Brazil in the first leg of the race, which started last Sunday.

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."

He said a full investigation had been launched.

Image copyright Chris Ison
Image caption The race was launched at St Katharine Docks, beside Tower Bridge in London
Image copyright LEON NEAL
Image caption The IchorCoal clipper set off to on the 6,000 mile journey to Brazil on 30 August

Mr Ashman was due to take part in the Southern Ocean and USA coast-to-coast legs of the race. His next of kin have been informed of his death.

The yachtsman had enjoyed sailing since joining the London Sailing project aged 16 and he had completed his competent crew, day skipper, yachtmaster theory and coastal skipper courses.

A spokesman for Clipper Ventures said: "At this stage it looks like a tragic accident as far as we can see, but obviously there will be a full assessment.

"The skipper and crew have been very upset."

The team were in the middle of the first of 14 mini races.

The first leg of the race launched at St Katharine Docks on 30 August with teams travelling 6,000 miles to Brazil's Rio De Janeiro.

At 40,000 nautical miles, the world's longest ocean race features 700 participants over its eight stages.

Twelve teams spend a year travelling the globe, sailing from London to Brazil, South Africa, Australia, Vietnam, China, Seattle, New York via Panama and back to London at the end of July next year.

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