Volvo Ocean Race yacht involved in fatal collision; RI crew member uninjured
Volvo Ocean Race officials say one fisherman was killed and nine others were rescued after their boat was involved in a collision with Vestas 11th Hour Racing some 30 nautical miles off Hong Kong as the yacht was sailing toward the finish line of Leg 4 of the bluewater classic.
None of the crewmembers, including Newport's Nick Dana, with the American-Danish team were injured in the collision early Saturday local time, race officials said. The 65-foot sloop, which had a hole in the port side of the hull near the bow, retired from the leg and was making its way to port on its own power.
Vestas 11th Hour Racing reported the collision just minutes before Hong Kong-based Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag sailed into its home port ahead of the fleet to win the leg.
According to a statement from race organizers, Vestas 11th Hour Racing issued a distress call on behalf of the fishing vessel, alerting the Hong Kong Marine Rescue Coordination Centre, and began a search and rescue mission.
One fisherman was airlifted to a hospital and nine others were rescued by a commercial vessel in the area. The fisherman who was airlifted died, according to the Hong Kong Marine Rescue Coordination Centre.
Race Control asked team AkzoNobel to divert to the scene. Not long after, AkzoNobel resumed racing.
No other details about the collision were immediately available.
The first confirmation that Vestas had collided with a fishing boat came from Charles Caudrelier, skipper of Dongfeng Race Team, which was second into Hong Kong on the leg from Melbourne, Australia.
"Our first thought is that this is terrible news," Caudrelier said shortly after his crew arrived in Hong Kong. "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."
Before the collision, Vestas 11th Hour Racing was in position to finish second in the leg. The retirement dropped it to seventh.
Vestas 11th Hour Racing skipper Charlie Enright missed Leg 4 due to a family medical situation. Mark Towill skippered the team in Enright's absence.