Andrew Ashman, 49, from Orpington in Kent, was knocked unconscious by a mainsheet and possibly a boom just after midnight local time while 120 nautical miles off the coast of Portugal.
Despite efforts to resuscitate the experienced yachtsman, with advice provided via satellite telephone from the round-the-world Clipper Race’s medical team, he never regained consciousness.
Mr Ashman, who worked as a paramedic, was part of the crew aboard the IchorCoal boat as it was heading south towards Brazil in the first leg of the 40,000 nautical mile race around the world.
The boat’s skipper Darren Ladd reported that Mr Ashman was involved in reefing the main sail in moderate seas in a strong breeze building to Force 6 winds when he was fatally hurt.
All other crew are safe and well, with their 70-foot yacht now set to divert to the Porto area in northern Portugal, with their arrival expected in the early hours of tomorrow morning.
A full investigation into the tragic incident will be carried out in cooperation with authorities.
Clipper Race founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said: “This is extremely sad news and my heart goes out to his bereaved family and friends, and to his fellow crew who have come to know Andrew with great affection during his training and the early days of this race.
“Safety is always our utmost priority, as our record shows, and we shall investigate the incident immediately in full cooperation with the authorities.”
Race director Justin Taylor met with Mr Ashman’s family this morning and Sir Robin and members of his organisation team are on their way to meet the IchorCoal crew in Portugal.
Mr Ashman, who had been a keen sailor since the age of 16, had also been due to compete with the IchorCoal crew on both the Southern Ocean and USA coast-to-coast legs of the Clipper Race.
The tenth edition of the Clipper Race, which was established almost 20 years ago, began by crews sailing under London’s Tower Bridge last Sunday.
The race is divided into eight legs and 16 individual races, with over 3,300 amateur crew having participated in previous races.
Mr Ashman’s death is the first fatality in the history of the event.
by GREG HEFFER