Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, founder of the Clipper round-the-world yacht race, has paid tribute to the second British crew member to die in this year’s event.
He said everyone involved in the race was in “shock” following the death of Sarah Young, 40, who was washed overboard in the Pacific Ocean.
In September, Andrew Ashman, a crew member on the same boat, died after being knocked unconscious.
Sir Robin insisted safety was “drummed into” sailors during intense training.
Despite being amateurs, both were experienced sailors.
Sir Robin, who in 1969 became the first person to sail solo and non-stop around the world, said: “We are all in a bit of shock to be honest because this isn’t the sort of thing we are used to having happen with us.
“We have had two fatalities in 20 years and it just doesn’t happen, but I am afraid it has on this occasion.”
Sir Robin described Sarah Young as a “very popular member of the crew, a very easy person to like”.
“She was an experienced sailor and I suppose we are all still wondering how on earth she happened to get washed overside and why she wasn’t tethered on.”
Sir Robin said: “One of the things we really focus on in Clipper with the four weeks training is safety. That is the primary consideration, the one thing we drum into all crew.
“Taking the safety precautions, we remind them of the man overboard procedures, they practise it and practise it so they get good at it, but the fact of the matter is people have a harness and [if they] don’t clip on they are endangering themselves, and I am afraid that is what has happened on this occasion.
“You can tell them to harness on, and we do the whole time, but if they haven’t done it I’m afraid this is what can happen.”
Young, who was from London, was one of the sailors taking part in the entire round-the-world challenge and had already sailed more than half way round the world and covered 20,000 nautical miles before setting off from the latest leg of the race on 21 March.
She was the owner of a personal lifestyle company providing services for high net-worth individuals and prior to the Clipper Race she had taken part in other expeditions including mountaineering in Nepal. She had also run a marathon and was a qualified diving group leader.
This latest stage of the race takes crews from Qingdao in China to Seattle in the United States and has 3,242 miles still to go.
The crew will now continue on their journey to Seattle, and Sir Robin said the journey would help them deal with their loss together.
“It gives them a focus, gives them something to deal with, there is the security of the boat and each other’s company,” he said.
“Do I think they will race very hard? No, I suspect they won’t. I should think they are in shock and will want to take it easy for a bit and I have to say I think if I was in their position I would do the same.”
More than 700 crew are participating in the 2015-16 edition, which left London at the end of August and will return there on 30 July.