Skipper from Skegness facing ‘personal struggles’ after tragedy pulls out of round world race

GREAT Britain skipper Andy Burns, seated, pictured with members of his crew. ANL-180122-114344001
GREAT Britain skipper Andy Burns, seated, pictured with members of his crew. ANL-180122-114344001

A skipper from Skegness - who achieved his ambition when he was handed the helm of the GREAT Britain entry in a round the world clipper race - has made the difficult decision to pull out due to “personal struggles” following the tragic death of a crew member.

Andy Burns, 32, received a hero’s welcome in November last year when he brought his crew safely across finish line of the third leg of the race in Fremantle, Australia, after conducting the sea burial of Simon Speirs who was washed overboard.

In spite of racing to the finish in second place in honour of the experienced 60-year-old yachtsman who died, blogs by Andy and members of his crew since the tragedy have shown the struggles they have endured in carrying on being competitive. The GREAT Britain team finished race six in the Whitsundays on January 16 in ninth place.

A statement issued yesterday by Andy says: “It saddens me to say that I have made the very tough decision to step down as GREAT Britain skipper.

“The reality is I have struggled at times since Fremantle and no longer feel I can give my crew the competitive edge they need from a race Skipper at this point in time.

“The support offered to me by the Race Office on a professional and personal level during this tough time has been phenomenal and I will always be extremely grateful for the opportunity given to me but it’s not one I feel able to continue at this time.

”I will follow the rest of their race and look forward to waving the team back into Liverpool full of shared pride of what has been achieved.”

Hannah MacLeod, the Olympic GB hockey team gold medalist who has been a crew member on the latest leg of the race, said in her blog: “This GREAT Britain crew has had many winning moments and whilst we may not be the most competitive on the Race Viewer, we are winning our battles, looking after each other and are better sailors than when we started. That sounds pretty champion to me.”

British sailor David Hartshorn, 53, is to take over as GREAT Britain Skipper for the remainder of the Clipper 2017-18 Race.

Race director Mark Light said: “A very popular, highly competent Skipper, Andy will be sorely missed by his crew, fellow Skippers and all of us within the Clipper Race Office, however we accept and fully support the difficult decision he has made. We all have huge admiration and respect for Andy and will continue to stand by him.”

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Skipper from Skegness and crew in round world race arrive in Australia after tragedy at sea - in second place