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Volvo Ocean Race: Vestas 11th Hour to skip Leg 6

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz 1 Feb 18:15 PST 2 February 2018
Vestas 11th Hour Racing was involved in a collision just 30nm from the finish of VOR leg 4 (Hong Kong) and has retired. © Suzy Rayment

Although no official announcement has been made, Vestas 11th Hour Racing will not compete in Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race to Auckland.

Vestas co-skippers Charlie Enright and Mark Towill were not present at Tuesday’s Volvo Ocean Race news conference at the Race Village at Kai Tak Runway Park, with a spokesman telling South China Morning Post that they were travelling.

Enright was not on board the boat for the fateful Leg 4 where they were involved in a collision with a mainland Chinese fishing boat carrying ten crew. One crew member, the skipper was pulled on board Vestas 11th Hour Racing and then transferred via helicopter to a hospital facility, where he died. The remaining nine crew were put aboard a commercial vessel and taken from the scene.

It had been previously advised that Vestas 11th Hour Racing would skip Leg 5 to Guangzhou a city of 14.4million located 120km NNW from Hong Kong, in mainland China, where an Inport Race will be sailed on the Pearl River.

Leg 6 is due to start on February 7, and the fleet will spend 2-3 weeks in the stopover at the halfway point of the 45,000nm race before setting out for Itajai in Brazil on March 18.

The damage to the port bow on Vestas 11th Hour Racing will require a new bow will be constructed using the original moulds by Italian builder Persico, who undertook a much more extensive repair on Vestas Wind after running aground on the Cargados Carajos Shoals near Mauritius in the 2012/13 Volvo Ocean Race.

It is expected that Vestas 11th Hour Racing will be shipped to Auckland where the replacement bow will be fitted. Shipping time from Hong Kong to Auckland is quoted at 10 days. Vestas 11th Hour Racing is believed to already be en route to New Zealand.

Vestas 11th Hour Racing was taken to the Hong Kong United Dockyard on Tsing Yi Island after the incident, with the damage being obscured by fenders.

It is not known who is conducting an investigation, or if indeed it has already been concluded. The incident occurred 30nm from the finish outside Hong Kong jurisdiction and with mainland China claiming jurisdiction over the whole of the South China Sea. Sail-World understands that there were three fishing boats were involved in the incident with two of those being well lit and visible to the crew, the third was unlit and the contact was made with the third boat's wheelhouse.

Further updates will follow from Sail-World Asia Editor, Guy Nowell based in Hong Kong.

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