The American co-skippers of the Vestas 11th Hour Racing team, Mark Towill and Charlie Enright, have released a statement regarding their boat’s fatal collision with a fishing vessel during a leg of the Volvo Ocean Race on January 20.
The collision occurred just outside Hong Kong waters near the end of the fourth leg, about 30 miles from the finish line. One person from the fishing vessel died in the accident.
“Our thoughts and condolences are with the families and all those affected by this tragic situation,” said Mark Towill.
The team is also offering more details on the incident and search and rescue.
Immediately after securing the vessel and ensuring the safety of the crew, Vestas 11th Hour Racing issued a Mayday distress call on behalf of the other vessel and then engaged in a search and rescue in coordination with the Hong Kong Marine Rescue Coordination Centre (HKMRCC). That search and rescue procedure eventually ended with the team recovering one casualty from the water who was airlifted to a hospital where he later died. Nine crew members from the non-racing vessel were rescued.
None of the Vestas 11th Hour Racing crew were injured in the collision. The boat, although significantly damaged, motored to Hong Kong under its own power.
“Our hearts go out to everyone involved in this terrible incident. It has been difficult for the crew and the entire Vestas 11th Hour Racing team. We are grateful for the overwhelming support we’ve had during this very tough time,” said Charlie Enright.
Vestas 11th Hour Racing continues to work with the authorities and Volvo Ocean Race in the ongoing investigation.
The team now says it will not be participating in inshore racing in Hong Kong this weekend and Leg 5, which begins on January 31st, as the team assesses all options for returning.