OLYMPIC sailing gold medallist Andrew "Bart" Simpson died as a result of an accident, a coroner has ruled.

The world of sailing was shocked when the 36-year-old from Sherborne in Dorset died in San Francisco on May 9 last year.

Mr Simpson suffered fatal injuries when his AC72 catamaran capsized during training with Artemis Racing for the America's Cup.

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The father-of-two was performing a "bear away" manoeuvre - turning downwind - when the catamaran's port-side hull dug into the water, causing it to capsize.

Dorset Coroner's Court heard Mr Simpson was left trapped under the vessel for 10 minutes and sufferedblunt trauma to his head, neck and chest.

Members of the Artemis Racing team, who had been following in a chase boat, managed to pull Mr Simpson from the water.

However he was pronounced dead a short time later.

Richard Middleton, assistant coroner for Dorset, reached a conclusion of accidental death following a 15-minute inquest in Bournemouth.

"I am sure that it is probable Mr Simpson's cause of death arose as a consequence of a deliberate human act which has unintentionally and unexpectedly taken a turn that has led to his death," Mr Middleton said.

"Mr Simpson died as a result of an accident."

Mr Middleton offered his sympathies and condolences to Mr Simpson's wife Leah, mother to their two young sons, and his family, who attended the inquest.

"From the numerous tributes I have heard, it is clear Mr Simpson will be a tremendous loss to the sailing community," he said.

Mr Simpson won gold alongside his best friend Iain Percy at the Beijing 2008 Games, and won silver at the London 2012 Olympics.