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Volvo Ocean Race - Vestas 11th Hour Racing arrives in Tauranga

by Compiled by Richard Gladwell, 13 Feb 14:59 PST 14 February 2018
Vestas 11th Hour Racing unloaded and waiting to start the trip to Auckland for repair ahead of the start of Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race on March 18, 2018 © Vestas 11th Hour Racing

The damaged Volvo 65 Vestas 11th Hour Racing has arrived in the Port of Tauranga and has been unloaded ahead of a usually three hour road trip to Auckland for repair.

Images released by Persico Marine show a new boat section being prepared for freight to Auckland. Two other images have been released by the team showing the undamaged starboard side of the hull of the Volvo 65.

From shots taken in Tauranga and posted on social media, the underside of the bow is badly gouged consistent with riding over the gunnel of the fishing boat. The port side is ripped in places down to the core laminate which can only be repaired by building a new port topside and bow section and then marrying that into the existing hull.

The images show hull damage consistent with earlier reports in Sail-World, which to recap - the incident occurred 30nm from the finish outside Hong Kong. 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, as Vestas 11th Hour Racing sailed over the top of the unlit fishing boat at a speed of about 20kts. The damage to the underside of the bow section is consistent with this account. No details have been released officially of the incident.

Sail-World's Asian Editor, Guy Nowell is based in Hong Kong and reported in a separate story on the fatal incident:

Minutes after Scallywag finished [first home], the next runner in the fleet, Vestas 11th Hour Racing, was ‘involved in a collision,’ as the official language puts it. First it became noticeable that Vestas had slowed from 20kts+ to just one or two knots, and then the online tracker started to display a course inconsistent with any sort of racing, even in zero beeze. In fact, 30nm away and outside Hong Kong waters, Vestas had been holed in the port bow as the result of a collision with another boat, and was now in a search pattern looking for survivors in the water.

A ‘Mayday’ call alerted the Hong Kong MRCC, and a helicopter was despatched to the scene. A commercial vessel rescued nine people from the water, and the helicopter ferried the tenth to hospital where he died. A press release noted that “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 cooperating with the authorities and are fully supporting the ongoing investigation.”

Vestas has retired from the race and is now being examined and assessed for damage at the HUD shipyard on Tsing Yi island. The outcome of the investigation has not been reported.

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