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Volvo OR: Vestas 11th hour retires from Leg 4 after collision

by Richard Gladwell and Volvo OR 19 Jan 15:57 PST 20 January 2018
Leg 4, Melbourne to Hong Kong, day 16, triple-headed (3 front sails in the air) tradewind sailing towards the Philippines on board Vestas 11th Hour. © Amory Ross / Volvo Ocean Race

Volvo Ocean Race has advised that Vestas Wind 11th Hour Racing has retired from Leg 4 after a collision with another vessel approximately 30nm from the finish.

Sail-World's Asian Editor Guy Nowell was in the media centre at the time of the incident and confirmed that Vestas 11th Hour hit a fishing boat, two of the fishing boat's crew were thrown into the water.

Helicopters were despatched from Hong Kong to assist by rescue authorities.

South China Morning Post reports that the fishing boat was from Mainland China

A mainland fishing boat hit a sailing boat at about 2.30am to the east of Waglan Island, a police spokesman said. The fishing boat sank and the 10 people fell into the sea.

One crew member was seriously injured and taken to hospital by helicopter. He was confirmed dead at 6.30am.

All of the crew were sent to Eastern District Hospital for treatment, the report concluded.

Initially it was understood that Vestas 11th Hour suffered minor damage in the incident. However The photos reveal that it is more serious and the full extent of the damage will await a full inspection.

Initially another competitor AkzoNobel was asked to stand by Vestas 11th Hour Racing however she has now been stood down and will resume racing.

The other vessel involved in the incident has not been named. The incident occurred in darkness after midnight. It was a fishing vessel and presumably was unlit and not running AIS.

Race Control at Volvo Ocean Race headquarters was informed of the incident by the team at approximately 17:39 UTC on Friday January 19, 2018, or 0139hrs local time.

The initial report from Volvo Ocean Race was that "all of the crew on Vestas 11th Hour Racing were reported to be safe. There is limited damage to the boat, which the team is still assessing. The team has not requested outside assistance.

Race Control has contacted the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre to inform them of the incident. Race Control has also informed the rest of the fleet of the incident."

Approximately three hours after the incident at 2150UTC Volvo Ocean Race Control advised that it had "requested team AkzoNobel to divert from its course to the finish line in Hong Kong to support Vestas 11th Hour Racing following a collision with another vessel." 90 minutes later they advised that "Team AkzoNobel has resumed racing and is expected to finish near midnight UTC."

She will be able to claim compensation for the 90 minutes lost in the exercise.

At 2330UTC (7.30am local time) Race Control advised that "Vestas 11th Hour Racing has retired from Leg 4 following a collision. The team is proceeding under its own power to Hong Kong."

The release from Volvo Ocean Race advises

The Volvo Ocean Race is deeply saddened to inform that the collision between Vestas 11th Hour Racing, a team competing in the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18, and a fishing vessel has resulted in a fatality of a crew member of the fishing vessel.

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 all support necessary for those affected by this incident.

All involved organisations are co-operating with the authorities and are fully supporting the ongoing investigation.

Sail-World will update this story as more information from Volvo Ocean Race comes to hand.

Sail-World's Asian Editor is in Hong Kong and we expect to be able to post updates and images from Guy as soon as they come to hand.

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