Volvo Ocean Race officials have now revealed that one fisherman was killed and nine others rescued after their fishing boat was involved in a collision with Vestas 11th Hour Racing early Saturday (Friday afternoon our time). The crash happened in darkness some 30 nautical miles out from the Hong Kong finish line of the race’s fourth leg.
No Vestas team members were injured but the 65 foot boat sustained a hole in the hull near the bow on the port side and retired from the leg. After helping out at the scene and assessing damage, the race boat was heading the rest of the way into Hong Kong under power. This means the team drops from a probable second place to seventh and last for the leg.
Skipper Charlie Enright of Bristol was not aboard for this leg having returned home to Bristol for a family medical emergency. He had planned to be in Hong Kong for the boat’s arrival and to resume his role as skipper on the next leg.
Vestas 11th Hour Racing issued a distress call on behalf of the fishing vessel, alerting the Hong Kong Marine Rescue Coordination Center, and began a search and rescue mission.
One fisherman was airlifted to a hospital and later died and nine others were rescued by a commercial vessel. Race Control asked team AkzoNobel to head to the scene but a short while later AkzoNobel resumed racing.
Charles Caudrelier, skipper of Dongfeng Race Team which now takes second place on the leg from Melbourne, Australia, to Hong Kong, said “Our first thought is that this is terrible news … We are of course very sad to hear it and very concerned about the fishing boat. It is always very dangerous when sailing in these fishing areas when there are so many boats and some have no lights. Obviously this is very bad news for these fishermen, the Volvo Ocean Race and for Vestas.”
The Vestas boat had seemed likely to take second in the long leg, having held a lead of around 16 miles a couple hours away from the finish.
Race officials issued this statement upon learning of the fatality …
On behalf of the Volvo Ocean Race and Vestas 11th Hour Racing, we offer our deepest condolences to the loved ones of the deceased.
The incident occurred approximately 30 miles from the finish of Leg 4, outside of Hong Kong waters. Race Control at Volvo Ocean Race headquarters was informed of the collision by the team moments after it happened at approximately 17:23 UTC on Friday January 19, 2018 (01:23 local time on Saturday morning).
The Vestas 11th Hour Racing team, none of whom were injured in the collision, issued a Mayday distress call on behalf of the other vessel, alerting the Hong Kong Marine Rescue Coordination Centre (HKMRCC) and undertook a search and rescue mission.
HKMRCC informed Race Control that a commercial vessel in the area was able to rescue nine of the crew and that a tenth crew member was taken by helicopter to hospital. HKMRCC has since confirmed the death of the air-lifted crew member.
Volvo Ocean Race and Vestas 11th Hour Racing are now focused on providing immediate support to those affected by this incident.
All involved organisations are co-operating with the authorities and are fully supporting the ongoing investigation.