Organisers of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race say Simon Speirs, who was crewing on CV30, GREAT Britain, died after he was washed overboard in the Southern Ocean

20 November

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has started an investigation into the death of Clipper Race crewmember, Simon Speirs, who passed away at the weekend.

The 60-year-old was aboard GREAT Britain when he was washed overboard in the Southern Ocean on 18 November while assisting with a headsail change in 20 knot winds.

At the time of the incident, Simon was clipped on, wearing his lifejacket, which included an AIS beacon, as well as approved waterproof ocean oilskins.

He was recovered, but despite efforts to save him, he was pronounced dead.

Simon was buried at sea yesterday (19 November).

As requested by Simon’s family, who were fully aware and came together to follow the order of service at the same time back home, it was Christian, and the rest of the Clipper Race fleet also joined them in solidarity as the service was carried out.

More below… Skipper, Conall Morrison, said: “We prepared some readings and held a moment’s silence together as a crew on deck at the same time as the service. Our thoughts and prayers are with the GREAT Britain team. Three of our current crew will be joining the team in Fremantle and those that knew Simon Speirs on board talk of what a gentle giant he was.”

Speaking on the loss of round the world crew member Simon Speirs, Sanya Serenity Coast Skipper Wendy Tuck said: “The mood on board Sanya Serenity Coast, as I imagine it will be across the whole fleet, is sombre with a lot of quiet reflection going on.

“To let my crew know of the terrible accident on board CV30 is the hardest thing to do at sea. We are all shocked and terribly saddened by the incident. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to Andy Burns and his crew on board, also to all of Simon’s friends and loved ones.”

18 November

A 60-year-old crewmember on board the Clipper Race yacht, GREAT Britain, has died after he was washed overboard in the Southern Ocean.

Simon Speirs, who was from Bristol, was assisting with a headsail change in 20 knot winds at 1414 local time today (18 November) when the incident happened.

He was recovered, but despite efforts to revive him, he was pronounced dead.

An investigation is now underway.

Clipper Race organisers have release the following statement:

‘Clipper Ventures is extremely saddened today to report the fatality of Simon Speirs, a crew member on board CV30, (GREAT Britain).

Simon, 60, from Bristol, UK, was on the foredeck assisting with a headsail change from Yankee 3 when he was washed overboard. Although he was clipped on with his safety tether, he became separated from the yacht in the Southern Ocean at approximately 0814UTC (1414 local time) in a rough sea state, in 20 knots of wind, gusting 40.

The team’s man overboard recovery training kicked into immediate effect and despite the rough conditions, Simon was recovered back on board by the Skipper and crew within 36 minutes, at which point CPR was immediately administered by three medically trained crew, which included a GP.

However Simon sadly never regained consciousness and was pronounced deceased at 0925UTC. The cause of death is unconfirmed at this time but thought to be by drowning.
All other crew are reported safe and are being supported remotely by the Race Office.

The incident occurred on Day 18 in Race 3 of the 13 stage Clipper Race. The fleet was racing from South Africa, Australia. The yacht, which was in sixth place, currently has approximately 1,500 miles left to its destination.

A clipper yacht at full sail

Simon Speirs was aboard GREAT Britain. Credit: onEdition

At the time of the incident, Simon was clipped on, wearing his lifejacket, which included an AIS beacon, as well as approved waterproof ocean oilskins.

A full investigation will now be carried out, as is standard practice, into the full details of the incident, including the reasons his safety tether did not keep him on board, in cooperation with the appropriate authorities.

A member of the crew since Race Start in the UK on August 20, 2017, Simon was a highly experienced sailor with over 40 years dinghy experience and a Coastal Skipper licence.

He also successfully completed the Clipper Race Coxswain Certificate (CRCC) in February this year in anticipation of his challenge. Designed in collaboration with the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA), and the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) specifically for the Clipper Race, this involved an intensive two-week course, in addition to the four weeks of compulsory training that all Clipper Race crew must complete which concentrates on safety at sea.

All Clipper Race crew, regardless of previous sailing experience, complete a compulsory and intensive four-week training programme before joining the race which covers all aspects of safety at sea, including repeated man overboard training drills, which are also repeated in race stopovers.

Simon’s next of kin have been informed and our deepest thoughts are with his family and all those who knew him.

The yacht is currently making best speed to Fremantle, Australia and we’ll provide further updates as we have them,’ concluded the statement.


The last edition of the Clipper Round the World Race saw two fatalities – the first in the 21 year history of the race.

Both deaths happened aboard the 70-foot CV21, IchorCoal.

Andrew Ashman, 49, died when he was accidentally struck by the boom.

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

On 1 April 2016, Sarah Young, who was not clipped on, died after she was washed overboard from the yacht.

She was recovered after one hour and 20 minutes in the water, but never regained consciousness.

The subsequent report into the two deaths by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) acknowledged that Clipper Race organisers had been proactive in mitigating the risks.

Read the MAIB report here

But, it recommended that Clipper Ventures review and modify its onboard manning policy and shore-based management procedures.