Simon Speirs, the British sailor who died after being swept overboard was a popular and sensible man, said Clipper Round The World Yacht Race co-founder Sir Robin Knox-Johnston.
Simon Speirs, 60, from Bristol, was taking part in the Clipper Round the World Race leg from South Africa to Australia.
The retired solicitor, who was wearing a life jacket, was washed over the side during gale force winds on Saturday.
Sir Robin Knox-Johnston said a full investigation would be carried out.
He said: “It’s very hard to be 100% positive what actually happened on the occasion. What we do know is that he was clipped on and somehow his tether failed in some form or another, and he was washed over the side of the boat. We’re not going to know more until such time as we have examined the equipment and talked to the crew.”
The competitors still racing have since been instructed to use both clips on their tethers as an extra precaution until it can be established what has happened.
Sir Robin said the crew and the medical team on board did everything they could to save him, and revealed his heart dropped when he received the call to say a sailor had gone overboard.
“We train hard to get people back if they go over, and indeed they did a brilliant job – getting him back in 36 minutes, which in those conditions is very, very good indeed,” he added.