Paramedic Andrew Ashman was the first fatality in the history of the Clipper Round the World Race. An interim MAIB report has revealed he suffered fatal neck injuries.

4 October, 2016

An interim report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has revealed that Clipper sailor, Andrew Ashman, died during an accidental gybe.

The 49-year-old paramedic was onboard the 70-foot CV21 ocean racer, IchorCoal, during the 2015-16 edition of the Clipper Round the World Race when the accident happened.

Andrew, who was the first person to die in the 20-year history of the race, was watch leader when he was accidentally struck by the boom.

The experienced sailor from Orpington, Kent, was due to complete multiple legs in the race.

“Since taking over the watch nearly 2 hours previously, the wind strength and seas had steadily increased until, at 2345, Andrew decided that the mainsail needed to be reefed, the skipper, who was below in the cabin agreed,” states the interim MAIB report.

“At this time Andrew was standing aft of the traveller rail and to port of the helmsman. At approximately 2356, Andrew moved forward from the stern of the cockpit to brief his crew when the yacht suddenly moved across the swell and wind.”

“This caused the wind to catch the leech of the mainsail pulling it back, causing tension on the gybe preventer line. The strop securing the preventer line to the bow, broke, releasing the boom, which moved swiftly to starboard across the cockpit in an uncontrolled gybe,” continued the report.

“The yacht then performed a second uncontrolled gybe with the boom swinging back onto the port side, before the helmsman was able to regain

“During the uncontrolled gybes Andrew sustained a fatal neck injury and could not be resuscitated despite the efforts of his crew mates,” concluded the interim report.

At the time of the accident on 4 September, 2015, IchorCoal was 122 nautical miles west of Porto, Portugal, on passage to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The draft report of the MAIB investigation is due to be distributed to key stakeholders later this month.

Andrew Ashman’s brother, Keith has spoken publicly about how he doesn’t blame Clipper for his brother’s death, which he describes as a “freak accident”.

Just months after the death of Andrew, another sailor on IchorCoal also died.

Sarah Young, 40, from London was knocked overboard by a wave into the Pacific Ocean during day 12 of the ninth race.

sarah young clipper race

Sarah Young. Photo courtesy of: ©onEdition

The company director and amateur sailor was not clipped on and was swept away in strong winds. Her body was recovered.

Sarah was later buried at sea by the Clipper crew mates with the consent of her family and friends.

An investigation into the incident is being carried out by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch.


7 September, 2015

The 49-year-old from Orpington, Kent was aboard of the IchorCoal boat when he was knocked unconscious by a sail as he was adjusting the mainsheet.

The accident happened on Friday night, 120 nautical miles off the coast of Portugal, en route to Brazil, in the first leg of the race, which started on Sunday, 30 August.

In a statement, 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.”.

This is the first fatality since the Clipper Race was launched in 1996.
The 40,000 nautical mile race takes a year to complete and offers training and crewing places to members of the public, many without any sailing experience, although Andrew Ashman is believed to be an experienced yachtsman.

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