Second Tragedy Strikes Volvo Ocean Race

One of the sailors competing in the Volvo Ocean Race is presumed “lost at sea,” a day after he went overboard 1,200 nautical miles from the South American coast.

John Fisher, 47

A man overboard call was made for John Fisher, a crew member on Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag. Winds at the time were around 35 knots, and the water was about 48 degrees. But at the time, the rest of the racing fleet was 200 miles downwind, explains Volvo Ocean Race officials.

“Sending them back upwind to assist, against gale to storm force winds, was not a viable option,” said Volvo Ocean Race President Richard Brisius.

Race leaders say the Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag team conducted an exhaustive search for several hours in tough weather conditions, but they were unable to recover their 47-year-old teammate.

A ship was diverted to help, but it was still 400 nautical miles away, and would need nearly a day to get there.

Because of the cold water temperature, rough seas, and the time that has passed since Fisher went overboard, the Volvo Ocean Race has concluded he is lost at sea. 

“This is heart-breaking for all of us,” Brisius wrote in a statement released Tuesday. “As sailors and race organisers losing a crew member at sea is a tragedy we don’t ever want to contemplate. We are devastated and our thoughts are with John’s family, friends and teammates.”

 Photos: Volvo Ocean Race
Photos: Volvo Ocean Race

Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag has now resumed heading in a north-easterly direction, in difficult weather conditions. Once race leaders have a chance to interview the crew members, they expect to release more information about how Fisher was lost overboard.

The loss comes about two months after another race boat, Vestas 11th Hour Racing, collided with a fishing boat outside Hong Kong, killing one of the fishermen.