Ainslie: Close to quitting sailing after Andrew 'Bart' Simpson's death

Iain Percy (right) and Andrew Simpson (GBR), acknowledge the crowd at the medal ceremony for the Men’s Keelboat (Star) event in The London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.

British sailing great, Sir Ben Ainslie writes in The Daily Telegraph on after the funeral service for his close friend, Andrew Simpson, killed in San Francisco as a result of an AC72 break up, during a training session.

I came close to quitting sailing after Andrew 'Bart' Simpson's death, says Sir Ben Ainslie.

The last few weeks have been the most upsetting, the most painful and the most bewildering of my life. The sport of sailing has lost other talented people down the years to whom I have been close, but nowhere near as close as I was to Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson.

Our friendship stretched right back to when we were boys coming up through the ranks. We started out against each other in Optimists; me, Iain Percy, Bart and a lot of the other sailors still going strong today, guys like Nick Rogers and Chris Draper. We grew up together.

As we got older we went out and got up to all of the usual high-jinks that guys in their late teens and early twenties get up to. We took a few road trips together, driving around Europe and Australia; running out of fuel, breaking down, generally being irresponsible. Those are really happy memories.

And now he is gone. It is going to take a long time for those of us who loved Bart, particularly his family, his amazing wife Leah and their two boys Freddie and Hamish, to come to terms with the fact that he is no longer with us. And with the circumstances surrounding his death.

I was also in San Francisco sailing in the Oracle AC72 at the time. We were just about to line up to go upwind near Artemis when we saw them capsize. It all happened so quickly.

As our support boats went to try to help, we nursed our AC72 back to shore, but as we did so it became apparent that someone was lost in the water. We knew already that it was unlikely to be good news.

For the rest of this tribute http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/othersports/sailing/10094237/I-came-close-to-quitting-sailing-after-Andrew-Bart-Simpsons-death-says-Sir-Ben-Ainslie.html!click_here



British Prime Minister David Cameron (right) with Ben Ainslie, and Andrew Simpson (centre) at the Weymouth and Portland Sailing Academy, in The London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.

Iain Percy (left) and Andrew Simpson (GBR), acknowledge the crowd at the medal ceremony for the Men’s Keelboat (Star) event in The London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.

20130601 Copyright onEdition 2013© Free for editorial use image, please credit: onEdition Sir Ben Ainslie on his way to breaking the Round the Island Record by over 15 minutes (2hrs 52 mins 15 secs) onboard J.P. Morgan BAR AC45. The win was dedicated to the memory of his friend Andrew 'Bart' Simpson, who died in a sailing accident recently. A black ribbon with 'Bart' in the middle were worn by the crew in his memory. The J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race (Saturday 1st June) i