Fatality in the Clipper race

Crew woman washed overboard by wave

Friday April 1st 2016, Author: Julia Wall-Clarke, Location: none selected

Clipper Ventures report the death of crew member Sarah Young, 40, a company owner from London. Young was one of the crew aboard IchorCoal (CV21) competing in their round the world race.

IchorCoal Skipper Darren Ladd reported that Young was tidying the cockpit after reefing the mainsail in 35-40 knots of wind, when she was knocked from her position by a wave. She fell back toward the guard wire and was swept under it by another wave at 1127 UTC (​2227 local time). She was not tethered onto the yacht at this time and was swept away in strong winds.

The boat immediately applied its man overboard drill but was hampered by the condition and lack of direct visual contact. Her body was recovered on board using her AIS signal at 1244 UTC (2344 local time), and although resuscitation was attempted and telephone assistance provided by the Praxes Medical Group Doctors, the Clipper Race's remote telemedicine support service, she never regained consciousness.

The cause of death is yet to be confirmed, but is suspected to be by drowning or exposure. All other crew are reported safe and well and the team are working with Race Officials to evaluate the options on diversion or continuing to Seattle.

The incident happened on day 12 of the ninth leg of the 14 stage Clipper Round the World Yacht Race, at 39°N, 160°E, approaching the International Date Line. This leg takes crew across the Pacific Ocean from Qingdao, China, to Seattle, USA and has over 3,242 miles left to its destination.

Young was the owner of a personal lifestyle company providing services for private high net worth individuals. A keen adventurer, the Clipper Race had been an ambition of hers for some years, and she said celebrating her 40th birthday just before setting sail from London was the perfect way to start her adventure.

Prior to the Clipper Race Young had taken part in other expeditions, including spending a year in Sabah, northern Borneo, working for Raleigh Malaysia. She had also led teams in Zambia, Botswana and Namibia, had been mountaineering in Nepal and did a world-first 18 day trek down the Skeleton Coast unsupported. She had also run a marathon and was a Divemaster. She leaves a partner but no children.

Young was one of the round the world crew and aside from missing a couple of legs in Australia due to the passing of her Mother, she had sailed more than half the way round the world, with over 20,000 nautical miles of racing under her belt between London and China, where the yacht had departed on 21 March.

A full investigation will now be carried out, as is standard practice, to uncover the full details of the incident in cooperation with the appropriate authorities. Race Officials are now supporting the Skipper and the crew through their own ordeal.

Clipper Race Founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston stated: "On behalf of everyone at Clipper Ventures, I am deeply saddened by the loss of Sarah. She was a very popular and integral member of the Clipper Race family and knew our boats well, having sailed with us since London last summer. The safety of our crew has always been and continues to be our main priority and we shall investigate the incident immediately in full cooperation with the authorities."

The Clipper Race was established almost 20 years ago and this is its tenth edition. This is the second fatality in the history of the race. Over 4,000 amateur crew have been trained and participated in previous races. 709 crew are participating in the 2015-16 edition which left London at the end of August, and will return there on 30 July 2016.

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