The crew of the Clipper Race yacht IchorCoal have made the decision to keep racing following tragedy of losing their crewmate Andrew Ashman.

The unanimous choice was made yesterday during a team meeting which also included Skipper Darren Ladd, Chairman Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, race director Justin Taylor and other members of the Clipper Race team who met the team into Porto on Saturday and are supporting them during the unscheduled layover.

They also observed the midday minute’s silence as supporters and the race fleet did the same.

Andrew Ashman

Andrew Ashman. Credit: onEdition

Skipper Darren Ladd said the decision to resum racing was ‘partly out of respect for Andy that we want to carry on, and partly a way that as a team we can deal with what’s happened.’

He said: ‘I think the only way we can all deal with it is to jump back on the boat and get back sailing and do it with Andy in our hearts and minds at the same time.

‘Andy was the best crew member you could wish to sail with. He has left an everlasting impact on us all which will never be forgotten. We are all going through a grieving process but I am incredibly proud of the whole team.

‘We have had a chance to talk about it and we’ve all had our moments but the fact we have all talked individually as a group all helps to get it out there. We are all feeling and suffering in our own way, but we are getting over it as a team.’

He added: ‘The support we have all felt has been and continues to be massive. The first few hours after the accident I was in a daze. I didn’t know how I felt. I wasn’t sure how I was going to deal with it.

‘Slowly the emails of support from the other skippers and race office team came in, then as we get within phone range, phone calls too from friends and family.

‘I knew by the time we were tied up that there was no way I couldn’t carry on with the race. I knew we had to carry on.’

Andrew was taken off the yacht on arrival at 2200 on Saturday night by local ambulance crew with the entire crew watching over him. A prayer was said over him by one of the crew and everyone applauded Andrew as he left the yacht.

He is now at a local medical facility awaiting repatriation to the UK.. His brother was scheduled to arriver in Porto last night.

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IchorCoal crew member Louise Thomas said: ‘Andy was amazing. He was a big character, always bouncing around the boat. I don’t think any of us will ever forget his loud booming voice, his ever present smile and his desire to always help and make everyone feel happy.

‘Something that will always stick in my mind is the fun and laughter he got out of everybody.

‘There was never a dull moment with him. A big personality has gone from the boat but we will rally round and continue his love for sailing.’

Sir Robin and the race office intend to get the team back out racing to Rio as soon as feasible though are currently cooperating with mandatory procedures with the Marine Accident Investigation Bureau.

Mik Moore, head training skipper will sail with the team as a watchleader as a stand-in for Andrew as far as Rio.

Olivier Cardin skipper of LMAX Exchange said the loss of Andy had affected the entire Clipper fleet: ‘For everybody, sadness was the first feeling as we lost a member of our family. We cried, we talked. The ensign was hoisted at half-mast. Everybody wrote some words for Andy and put them in a bottle, which was thrown at sea. Andy was a good fellow. I discovered him during the preparation week. Always smiling, always nice with everyone, he was for me the figure of this Clipper Race.’