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America's Cup catamaran capsized from direction-changing maneuver

SAN FRANCISCO -- The America's Cup catamaran that capsized in San Francisco Bay, killing an Olympic gold medalist, nose-dived during a difficult maneuver and broke into many pieces, an official said yesterday.

The Artemis was conducting a maneuver that required it to change direction when it capsized on Thursday, America's Cup regatta director Iain Murray said. The Oracle team was practicing on the boat.

"Artemis and Oracle were out there training in what they had been doing for months," Murray said. "And looking frankly quite good." Murray said the maneuver involved changing direction and wind flow across the boat. Though difficult, it was normal, he said.

Coast Guard Lt. Jeannie Crump has said Coast Guard officials weren't sure what caused the boat to capsize. San Francisco police said they will lead the investigation.

Andrew "Bart" Simpson, 36, was underwater for more than 10 minutes when the vessel capsized. He was pronounced dead a short time later.

Murray said Simpson was on a trampoline on the windward side of the yacht with crew members and got trapped under some of the solid sections of the boat, out of sight to those on board who were looking for him.

Simpson, who was British, had collected an Olympic gold medal in sailing in 2008 and a silver medal at last year's games when Artemis Racing offered a chance to win yachting's top prize: the America's Cup. As strategist for the Swedish team, he was involved in all decision-making on the boat and participated in trimming the sails.

Stephen Barclay, CEO of the America's Cup Event Authority, said it was unclear how the death may effect the America's Cup races, which are scheduled to run from July to September.

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