Sarah Young, Clipper Round the World Yacht Race participant and 40-year-old U.K. businesswoman, has been reported dead after being knocked overboard in the Pacific Ocean, about 1,000 miles off the coast of Japan, close to the International Date Line, as reported in a release by race organizers.
Young is the second to lose her life in the 2015/2016 staging of the Clipper Round the World Race; in September, shortly after the beginning of the event, 49-year-old paramedic Andrew Ashman died off the coast of Portugal. It is thought, though not confirmed, that Ashman was struck by the “mainsheet and possibly the boom,” as reported by the event’s organizers.
— The Irish News (@irish_news) April 1, 2016
Young’s cause of death is suspected to have been by “drowning or exposure.” SeaTemperature.org lists current ocean temperatures off the Japanese coast as ranging from near 32 degrees Fahrenheit in the north at Shibetsu to 69 degrees Fahrenheit in the south at Tarumizu. The reported position of the ship was 39 degrees north, 160 degree east when Sarah fell overboard.
“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,” founder of the race, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston stated in the release.
According to the skipper of the IchorCoal, Darren Ladd, Sarah Young was working “tidying the cockpit” after “reefing the mainsail” and then fell underneath a guard wire after being bounced by a series of waves. Young was reported to have gone overboard at 10:27 p.m. local time and her body retrieved at 11:44 p.m., over an hour later. The crew was able to locate Sarah through the use of an AIS beacon, of the type described by Yachting World.
It has been noted that Young was not wearing a safety tether, in the 35 to 40 knot winds at the time she went overboard, which would seem to have had the ability to prevent such an event. Wearing tethers, or eschewing them, appears to be a subject of debate in the yachting world, as reported by Sail World, which comes down firmly in favor of tethering. The publication also discusses the real danger presented in the situation of a tethered crew member going overboard, being dragged through the water and slammed against a ship’s hull, noting that reducing the speed of a ship to less than two knots in less than one minute is critical to ensuring their survival.
Sarah Young was reported to own a personal lifestyle business and to have formerly participated in expeditions in Borneo, Zambia, Namibia, and Botswana. Young had sailed “more than half the way” around the world and completed 20,000 miles of the Clipper Race. The amateur sailor intended to complete the majority of the race; some participants only take part in portions of the event’s 14 total legs. At the time of his death, it was reported that Andrew Ashman’s plans were to participate the Clipper Race’s first leg, as well the USA and Southern Ocean runs.
A “full investigation” into Young’s death is reported to be pending.
Young’s 2016-death aboard a Clipper Round the World Race vessel is reported to be the second in the event’s 20-year history, as well as being the second in one year. The race began in London, England in August, 2015 and will conclude there in July. Close to 700 amateur sailors are taking part in this year’s race. Over 4,000 sailors have taken part in the Clipper Round the World Race since its inception. The 2015/16 staging is the tenth inauguration of the globally celebrated event.
UK sailor Sarah Young to be buried at sea, following death in Clipper Round the World yacht race, organisers say https://t.co/1nKS09qmaK
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) April 2, 2016
[Photo by Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images]