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Sunday 15 July 2018

British-born sailor ‘lost at sea’ after going overboard in round-the-world race

John Fisher, who lived in Adelaide, Australia, went overboard from Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag’s 65-foot sloop in rough conditions.

John Fisher on board the Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race via AP)
John Fisher on board the Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race via AP)

By Bernie Wilson, Associated Press

A British-born sailor in the Volvo Ocean Race is presumed lost at sea after going overboard in the Southern Ocean, around 1,400 miles west of Cape Horn.

John Fisher, who lived in Adelaide, Australia, went overboard from Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag’s 65-foot sloop in rough conditions on Monday.

Officials of the round-the-world race say the team searched for several hours in high wind and big waves before deteriorating conditions forced it to resume course toward South America.

The rest of the fleet was more than 200 miles away, and the nearest ship that could be located was more than a day away.

Statement by Lee Seng Huang and Sun Hung Kai & Co: owner and sponsor of Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag: “We are...

Posted by Sun Hung Kai & Co on Monday, March 26, 2018

Given the cold water and fierce conditions, “We must now presume that John has been lost at sea,” race president Richard Brisius said in a statement on Tuesday that came nearly 24 hours after Mr Fisher went overboard.

“This is heartbreaking for all of us,” Mr Brisius said. “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.”

Race officials said the 47-year-old sailor was on watch and wearing appropriate survival gear when he went overboard. No further details were provided.

Mr Fisher was an experienced big boat sailor who was sailing in his first Volvo Ocean Race, the team’s website said. He was a veteran of the Sydney-Hobart, one of the toughest offshore races.

Earlier in the race, Scallywag crewman Alex Gough was swept overboard during a sail change and was rescued within seven minutes. Mr Gough was not wearing a safety harness or life jacket, and skipper David Witt said at the time that he was lucky to be alive.

In May 2006, Dutch sailor Hans Horrevoets was swept overboard in the Atlantic Ocean. The crew turned back and found Mr Horrevoets but could not revive him.

This edition of the race had already been tarnished by a collision involving Vestas 11th Hour Racing and a fishing boat that killed a fisherman in January. The collision off Hong Kong sank the fishing boat and caused severe damage to the racing yacht, forcing it to miss the next two legs.

The teams are on Leg 7 from Auckland, New Zealand, to Itajai, Brazil. It will cover 7,600 nautical miles. The entire race will cover some 45,000 nautical miles.

Press Association

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