Percy remembers fallen team-mate
Andrew “Bart” Simpson would have embraced revisions to the America’s Cup class rule and Bermuda hosting the next instalment of the “Auld Mug” with open arms, according to the late sailor’s close friend and crewmate Iain Percy.
Simpson lost his life in an accident in the lead-up to the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco Bay in 2013 while training with Swedish challenger Artemis Racing in the wing-sail foiling AC72 catamaran. The 72ft catamaran capsized, trapping the 36-year old Simpson under the hull for ten minutes.
Prior to his death Simpson won the 2008 Argo Group Gold Cup sailing with Sir Ben Ainslie on Bermuda’s waters and also shared his wealth of expertise with the Island’s grass roots sailors.
“Bart always had great times here,” said Percy, who cradled his dead best friend after attempts to resuscitate him proved unsuccessful on that fateful day two years ago. “We enjoyed good times here both on and off the water.
“Bart would have liked to compete here in the America’s Cup. He likes the tricky, shifty wind which is what you have here.
“He was one of the masters of picking wind shifts. His success rate in picking a side was absolutely world renowned and he would be a huge asset for here.
“We all miss Bart as a friend and because of his professional talents.”
The original class rule for the 35th America’s Cup would have seen teams compete in a 62ft wing-sail foiling catamaran. But changes aimed at reducing costs will now see teams compete in a 48ft catamaran instead.
It is the first time in America’s Cup history that the class rule has been revised in midstream and the smallest boats to be used in the event’s history.
The new America’s Cup catamarans will feature certain one-design elements, something Percy says Simpson would have approved of.
“Bart grew up sailing Lasers so I know for a fact he’d be happy with these more one design elements,” said Percy, who broke the tragic news of Simpson’s death to his wife Leah on her 35th birthday. “He would be quite in favour of these boats and he always believed it should be more of a sailing race.”
Percy and Simpson enjoyed many great times sailing together on the water.
The duo won a gold medal for Great Britain in the double handed Star dinghy at the 2008 Summer Olympics and silver at the 2012 Games and were also crowned Star world champions in 2010.
“When he was with me he used to kick me up the a** if I was never working hard,” Percy said. “I had that when he was with us and I still feel it a bit when he’s not because I know what he would be saying on many occasion.”
Artemis Racing marked the second anniversary of Simpson’s death last Saturday with an emotional wreath-laying ceremony in the Great Sound.
Three days later the team became the first America’s Cup challenger to launch their turbo charged AC45S catamaran in Bermuda.
“We are here to train hard in these 45 turbos and improve and spend more time in the gym and less time in the bar,” Percy said. “As a team we feel very strong and very dedicated to winning the next Cup.”