John Williams, Owner of J-Class yacht J/5 Ranger. (Photo © George Bekris)

John Williams, Owner of J-Class yacht J/5 Ranger. (Photo © George Bekris)

 

The sailing world is saddened by the sudden passing of  John  Williams, owner of the J-Class yacht Ranger. Mr. Williams passed away on Monday, 16th April.

 J-Class yacht J/5 Ranger. J-Class Regatta 2017 Newport, RI (Photo © George Bekris)

J-Class yacht J/5 Ranger. J-Class Regatta 2017 Newport, RI (Photo © George Bekris)

John, a prominent property developer in Atlanta, Georgia, was a leading light in the J Class for many years. His vision and passion for Ranger, the J Class and its long history was instrumental in the formation of the J Class Association and the consequent renaissance the class is enjoying presently.

After being inspired by seeing Velsehda and Endeavour racing in the Caribbean in the late 1990s, he chartered Endeavour to race in Antigua. That was the catalyst for his decision to commission the build of Ranger, the first J Class yacht to be built since the 1930s. Construction started at the Danish Yacht Boatyard in early 2002.

He raced and cruised Ranger extensively in the Caribbean, Europe and all around the world with considerable success.

His boat Ranger won the 2011 J-Class Regatta in Newport, RI. His boat was an often seen racer in the Newport area.

Crew of Ranger in 2011 after winning the Newport J-Class Regatta (Photo by George Bekris)

Crew of Ranger in 2011 after winning the Newport J-Class Regatta (Photo by George Bekris)

John Williams is survived by his wife Nancy, three children; Jay, Sarah Brook and Parker, and two grandchildren; Jack and Harrison. The thoughts and condolences of the wider J Class community are extended to his family and to all of the Ranger family.

John’s long serving ‘admiral of the fleet’ Dan Jackson notes: “As far as yachting goes, John started about 30 years ago and worked his way up from a 50ft sloop to building “Atlanta”, “Georgia” and then “Ranger”, which we launched in 2003.

“He was never happier than when on the boat with a full race crew mixing it up with other J boats. As far as significant wins, he was always proud of the wins in Sardinia at the Rolex Maxi Cup and the “clean sweep” that we had in St Tropez in 2014, winning all of the races. He loved having his family and the race crew (his second family) around him, enjoying the boat.”

 J-Class yacht J/5 Ranger. J-Class Regatta 2017 Newport, RI (Photo © George Bekris)

J-Class yacht J/5 Ranger. J-Class Regatta 2017 Newport, RI (Photo © George Bekris)

A view of a recent Newport Bermuda Race send-off for Class 3 of the St. David’s Lighthouse Division. Photo: Daniel Forster/PPL

The 195 boats that submitted entries before the 2018 Newport Bermuda Race“application for entry” deadline are anchored by the usual excellent turnout of nearly 150 cruiser- and cruiser/racer-style boats sailing in the St. David’s Lighthouse and Finisterre (Cruiser) divisions. The race, which is co-organized by The Cruising Club of America and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, offers several other divisions for different types of boats and competitors, which truly makes this event seven races in one.

While some pre-start attrition is normal when a fleet faces 635 ocean miles across the Gulf Stream, a diverse fleet of 180 to 190 boats should cross the line on June 15th, crewed by a mix of both professional and amateur sailors. That would make it the biggest fleet since 2010, when 193 boats finished the race.

Among the entries in St. David’s and Finisterre divisions, the 2016 success of youth sailors guided by adult advisors aboard High Noon (link) has led to four entries by youth teams in 2018. There will also be new divisions of Multihulls and Superyachts, which have added seven boats to the fleet, the largest of which is the 112-foot Sparkman & Stephens design, Kawil.

Another key to the high entry total is the 20 boats entered in the Gibbs Hill Division, which is for high-performance racing boats that in many cases are steered and crewed professionally. Recognizing advances in offshore racing technology, the Bermuda Race Organizing Committee allowed entry this year by boats carrying water-ballasting systems and certain types of canting keels. In past years, Gibbs Hill typically has drawn 10 to 15 entries; in 2016, based on the high winds forecast in the days before the race, all of the Gibbs Hill entries elected not to compete.

Spirit of Bermuda Starts off the Race for 2014 (Photo By George Bekris)

“The BROC remains committed to the value of the race as an adventure and participation for its own sake,” says Jonathan Brewin, the event chairman and past commodore of the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club. “The race is different than many competitions; it’s a chance to compete for an array of permanent trophies and be part of a history going back to 1906,” says Brewin, “but above all it’s a chance to challenge oneself and one’s crew to prepare to compete safely offshore at the highest level.”

 

Newport Bermuda Race Start (Photo by George Bekris)

The introduction of a Multihull Division was three years in development, and based on the standards adopted for 2018, not every multihull will be eligible to compete. Collaborating with an experienced cadre of multihull designers and sailors, the Cruising Club of America’s safety committee developed new ocean-racing safety standards for participating multihulls and set more rigorous safety training requirements than for monohull crews. In addition, the BROC collaborated with the Offshore Racing Association to create a new VPP handicap system for multihulls (ORR-MH) that was successfully tested in the 2017 Transpac Race.

See BermudaRace.com for news updates on the race. See Official Notice Board for current list of entries.

Genuine Risk At Start Of Bermuda Race (Photo by George Bekris )

Spindrift 2 Maxi Trimaran Dona Bertarelli

Spindrift 2 Maxi Trimaran Dona Bertarelli

by Christophe Guigueno

The dismantling of the maxi-trimaran of 40 meters between Brest and the starting line of the Trophy Jules Verne last winter was stored in the trunk of bad memories on the side of Spindrift Racing. But the failure of the 100% male crew led the co-creator with Yann Guichard of the Swiss team to take the reins of the trimaran to set up a women-only crew for the next attempt against the world record  sailing.

 

In 2015, Dona Bertarelli was part of the crew of the trimaran Spindrift 2, formerly Banque Populaire and the largest offshore racing trimaran in the world. By completing the world tour in 47 days 1 hour 17 minutes and 41 seconds, the maxi-tri did not beat the Jules Verne Trophy record . But her co-skipper became the fastest woman around the world to sail. A title she now wants to share with other women.

A group drawn from the pool of the Volvo Ocean Race

The timing is also perfect for the Swiss, as under the initiative of Mark Turner, the Volvo Ocean Race , the crewed world tour with stopover aboard 65-foot monohulls, required the crew to board at least two women on board. This new rule means that many young women have acquired an enormous experience of the open sea on which Dona Bertarelli will be able to rely to build an international crew.

According to our sources, an emissary of Spindrift Racing was present in New Zealand during the last stopover to meet these potential teammates and present the project. A contact that would have met with great success with these women who, after a mixed world tour but a minority on board, would be ready to follow the wake of Tracy Edwards. A Frenchwoman also said she did not fear the pressure on men’s performance: “l pressure, I drink, I do not suffer!” she added …

In the wake of Edwards and MacArthur

A Jules Verne Trophy 100% feminine, it would not be a first since in 1998, the English Tracy Edwards who had already led a crew “zero testo” aboard the catamaran Royal Sun Alliance, the former Enza of Peter Blake born under the name Formula TAG for Mike Birch and now converted into a zero emission catamaran under the name of Energy Observer. After two years of preparation and numerous records, including the crossing of the English Channel, Tracy Edwards and her crew of 10 women (including her compatriot Samantha Davies) set off off Ouessant. The adventure ended on a dismasting 2000 miles from Chile.

Five years after this attempt, another woman tackles the challenge initiated by Yves Le Cornec, Titouan Lamazou and Florence Arthaud. This is Ellen MacArthur who starts the world tour with … 13 teammates! For the Englishwoman, the circumnavigation ends once again on a dismasting, this time off the Kerguelen.

Dismantling of Royal Sun Alliance, Kingfisher 2, Spindrift 2 … Attempts often end with a spar at the bottom of the water. So if Dona Bertarelli takes over the torch and will leave this winter with her 40 meter trimaran to establish this first time around the world with a 100% female crew, it will not be to plant it again at the bottom of the water but for the sting at the top of the sail all genders confused …

 


Women’s World Tours:
-  2015: Dona Bertarelli, co-skipper of the trimaran Spindrift 2: 47d 1h 17 ’41’ ‘(fastest woman around the world)
- 2003: Ellen MacArthur skipper of the catamaran Kingfisher 2 with 13 crew members. Departure on January 30, 2003. Drainage off the Kerguelen
- 1998: Tracy Edwards skipper of the Royal & Sun Alliance catamaran with a 100% female crew. Dismantling off Chile.

by Christophe Guigueno

 

Leg 01, Alicante to Lisbon, day 06, morning on board Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag. morning, fast sailing in light winds. Photo by Jeremie Lecaudey. 27 October, 2017 (photo © Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race )

Leg 01, Alicante to Lisbon, day 06, morning on board Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag. morning, fast sailing in light winds. Photo by Jeremie Lecaudey. 27 October, 2017 (photo © Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race )

An update on Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag crew member John Fisher, from Richard Brisius, the President of the Volvo Ocean Race:

This morning I am extremely sad to inform you that one of our sailors, John Fisher, from Team Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag, is now presumed to have been lost at sea.

 

John Fisher on Leg 6 to Auckland, day 19 on board Sun hung Kai/Scallywag. John Fisher helming under the moon. 26 February, 2018. (Photo © Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race )

John Fisher,  Leg 6 to Auckland, day 19 on board Sun hung Kai/Scallywag. John Fisher helming under the moon. 26 February, 2018. (Photo © Jeremie Lecaudey/Volvo Ocean Race )

 

This is heart-breaking for all of us. 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.

Yesterday, just after 1300 UTC, Race Control for the Volvo Ocean Race were informed of a man overboard situation by Team Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag.

We immediately coordinated with the team as well as the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, who have located a ship and diverted it towards the scene. But at current speeds it remains over a day away.

With the rest of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet approximately 200 miles downwind, sending them back upwind to assist, against gale to storm force winds, was not a viable option.

The Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag team conducted an exhaustive search for several hours in extremely challenging weather conditions, but they were unable to recover their teammate.

Given the cold water temperature and the extreme sea state, along with the time that has now passed since he went overboard, we must now presume that John has been lost at sea.

All of us here at the Volvo Ocean Race organisation send our heartfelt condolences out to John’s family, his friends and his teammates and we will do everything in our power to support them in this very difficult time.

Team Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag has now resumed heading in a north-easterly direction.

In fact, the team is currently in a challenging position – the weather is deteriorating and is forecast to be quite severe over the course of today.

The crew is, of course, emotionally and physically drained after what they have just experienced.

Our sole focus now is to provide all the support and assistance that we can to the team.

We are sure that there will be many questions about how one of our sailors was lost overboard yesterday.

We can address those after the team has been fully debriefed.

Today, our thoughts and prayers go out to John’s family and the entire Scallywag team.

Svea JClass (Photo © JClass/Carlo Borlenghi )

Svea JClass St. Barths Round the Island (Photo © JClass/Carlo Borlenghi )

 

Svea bounced back from one small error to retain their unbeaten record in the three boat J Class fleet at the first regatta of the season, the St Barth’s Bucket. It was the first ever round the island style coastal race for the Svea crew which is lead by their tactician, 2004 Olympic silver medallist Charlie Ogletree with Kenny Read sailing as strategist.

Though Velsheda sailed impeccably in the 12-17 kts SE’ly breeze and lead all the way around the scenic 23 nautical miles counter-clockwise circumnavigation of the island of St Barths, Svea was close enough at the finish line to save their handicap allowance and win by a mere 17 seconds.

Key to Velsheda’s early lead was the timing they chose to tack in to the island after the start. They chose to hang out early on during the short 20 minute beat to the corner, timing their tack in towards the island so that they could make the double gain of being inshore boat and getting the accelerated, lifting breeze at the corner. That was enough to allow them to break free of Svea and Topaz and build a small lead as they reached and then ran downwind along the outside, windward side of the island.

Svea shed some time when they lost the tack of their spinnaker on the second hoist, letting Velsheda away slightly, but thereafter they showed good downwind pace and closed down the famous J Class ‘original’ which won this race last year from 2017’s fleet of six boats.

After the mid-race cloud cleared for the final beat back up to the finish, the breeze picked up nicely to 16-17kts. With clear skies Velsheda and Svea stayed right and made use of a nice right shift, lifting on starboard and both stepping slightly further clear of Topaz which had sailed a good race, always in touch with the two yachts in front. The straightforward course offered little in the way of tactical passing options on the downwinds especially, and it was very much a boatspeed test for the trimmers and helms.

“We had a good race, even if we proved ourselves a little short on practice when the tack came off. We could adjust our strategy a little at that time but that cost us a bit of time. That was a clear case of lack of practice. We could not gybe until it was sorted.” Recalled Svea’s tactician Ogletree, “But we really just focused on our boatspeed, staying close enough to Velsheda. Tom did a great job steering the boat all the way around the course, it needed a high concentration level and he stuck to it.”

Adding their first coastal race win as a crew to yesterday’s two windward-leeward race wins Svea, her name meaning ‘Swede’ are in clear charge of the popular Caribbean regatta at its midway stage, four points ahead of Velsheda which has now sailed 2,3,2 from the first three races.

Velsheda’s tactician Tom Dodson admitted they could not really see what more they could have done in order to open enough time on Svea. ” I feel like we sailed really well. It was a good day but we cannot really deal with Svea, we are just racing her boat for boat and so we are happy to have beaten them across the line really. We had a plan and stuck to it and that seemed to work for us. We could have been a click closer to the line at the gun but we had our strategy to the corner just right and popped out ahead. We wanted to get inshore to the first headland to get to the lift, the accelerated breeze and the flatter water. That is what we thought and it worked.” Dodson recalled.

“Our boat is going well and Ronald steered really nicely and the trimmers were great. Svea got within about three boat lengths down the run and there was nothing we could do about that. We got away a little on the final beat as the breeze picked up. I feel we are sailing the boat as well as we can.” Dodson adds “And what is nice is that Ronald will go from here and cruise the boat like he always has.”

Once more the 2016 launched Topaz were in the mix early but faded slightly towards the end of the race, crossing third. Topaz crew boss Tim Kröger concluded: “We sailed well. Make no mistake here we still think of ourselves as the new kids on the block in this class. We are still learning day by day. Velsheda have been at this for a decade. But we are loving it. We have a great group here and we are enjoying learning together. There is a great atmosphere on board and we know how lucky we are to be doing this, sailing on this boat in this class. Everyone comes to the boat in the morning with a smile on their face.”

“We are still lacking in a bit of upwind speed but are working on it. It is all moving on, we are working here with a retrieval system on the spinnakers like Svea have and that saves some seconds here and there but that is where we are.”

2018 St Barths Bucket, Day 2 Round the Island Race.

1 Svea 2h 26m 17s, 2 Velsheda 2h 26m 34s, 3 Topaz 2h 28m 40s

Overall after three races

1 Svea 3pts 2 Velsheda 7pts 3 Topaz 8pts

 

Auckland Stopover. The New Zealand Herald In-Port Race. 10 March, 2018. (Photo © Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race )

Auckland Stopover. The New Zealand Herald In-Port Race. 10 March, 2018. (Photo © Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race )

 

March 10, 2018 02:00 UTC
Written by Peter Rusch

Dongfeng Race Team earned a spectacular come from behind win on Saturday afternoon in New Zealand

Dongfeng Race Team showed great concentration and resilience in winning the New Zealand Herald In Port Race in Auckland, New Zealand on Saturday.

Conditions were extremely light, shifty and patchy on the Waitematā Harbour, making for plenty of lead changes over the course of the one hour race.

Team AkzoNobel finished in second place, while early leaders MAPFRE completed the podium to retain the overall lead in the In Port Race Series.

Auckland Stopover. The New Zealand Herald In-Port Race. 10 March, 2018. (Photo © Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race )

Auckland Stopover. The New Zealand Herald In-Port Race. 10 March, 2018. (Photo © Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race )

“It was very tricky, very difficult,” said Dongfeng skipper Charles Caudrelier following the race. “We had a terrible start but there was so much happening during the first leg that it wasn’t always good to be in the lead as you just showed the others where the light spots were. We were able to pick up on that and sail around the leaders.

“We worked hard on our speed, and managed to come back slowly.”

Auckland Stopover. The New Zealand Herald In-Port Race. 10 March, 2018. (Photo © Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race )

Auckland Stopover. The New Zealand Herald In-Port Race. 10 March, 2018. (Photo © Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race )

The race started in spectacular fashion, considering how light the wind was. MAPFRE positioned well to leeward of the fleet, was first across the line, with David Witt’s Scallywag barging through with speed ahead of a big group clustered near the pin end.

But in fact, it was Team Brunel who were causing the pile-up at the pin, forcing three boats outside of the start line, with Dongfeng, Turn the Tide on Plastic and team AkzoNobel all required to re-start well behind the leaders.

That left MAPFRE and Scallywag as the early leaders, charging up what appeared to be a one-tack leg.

Auckland Stopover. The New Zealand Herald In-Port Race. 10 March, 2018. (photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Auckland Stopover. The New Zealand Herald In-Port Race. 10 March, 2018. (photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race )

But as they approached the top third of the leg, the wind died, and the trailing boats were able to sail around the leading pair on both sides, with AkzoNobel and Vestas 11th Hour Racing squeezing through just ahead of Dongfeng Race Team and Brunel Sailing.

On the nominally downwind second leg, AkzoNobel and Dongfeng found a vein of pressure to grab the lead, and on a shortened two-lap course, it was Dongfeng who were able to ease ahead and hold on for the win.

Auckland Stopover. The New Zealand Herald In-Port Race. 10 March, 2018. (photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Auckland Stopover. The New Zealand Herald In-Port Race. 10 March, 2018. (photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race )

“It was a good team win,” said Caudrelier. “Very good for the mood of the team.”

The results mean MAPFRE retains the overall lead in the series, with Dongfeng reducing the gap to second place and team AkzoNobel leapfrogging Brunel to take third.


Current Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Race Series Leaderboard

1. MAPFRE – 37 points
2. Dongfeng Race Team – 34 points
3. team AkzoNobel – 27 points
4. Team Brunel – 26 points
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing – 18 points
6. Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag – 15 points
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic – 11 points

Auckland Stopover. The New Zealand Herald In-Port Race. 09 March, 2018. (Photo © Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race )

 

#volvooceanrace #dongfeng #auckland #inport

Auckland Stopover. (Photo © Jesus Renedo/Volvo Ocean Race )

Mark Towill, Team Vestas 11th Hour Racing (Photo by Atila Madrona/ Vestas 11th Hour Racing )

Mark Towill, Team Vestas 11th Hour Racing (Photo by Atila Madrona/ Vestas 11th Hour Racing )

 

 

Vestas 11th Hour Racing co-founder, Mark Towill, spent time at home with family and friends after departing the Volvo Ocean Race Hong Kong stopover where the team’s VO65 was involved in a tragic accident with a fishing vessel. Towill has now regrouped with the team and their VO65 yacht in Auckland, New Zealand, ahead of the next leg of the race. The team has now been informed that investigations by the Hong Kong and mainland China authorities will be closed shortly with no further action to be taken. As a result, Towill gives us his account on what happened in the early hours of January 20 in the approach to Hong Kong.

 

What happened as you approached the finish line of Leg 4? 

We were about 30 nautical miles from the finish, and I was at the navigation station monitoring the radar and AIS (Automatic Identification System), and communicating with the crew on-deck through the intercom. I was watching three vessels on AIS: a cable layer, which we had just passed, a vessel farther ahead moving across our bow and away, and a third vessel identified as a fishing vessel. There were a number of additional boats on AIS, many of them fishing vessels, but these three were the only ones identified in our vicinity.
What were the conditions like? What could you see?

It was a dark and cloudy night, with a breeze of around 20 knots and a moderate sea state. As we approached the fishing vessel that we had identified on AIS, the on-deck crew confirmed visual contact – the fishing vessel was well lit – and we headed up to starboard to keep clear. I was watching AIS and communicating the range and bearing to the crew. The crew confirmed we were crossing the fishing vessel when, before the anticipated cross, there was an unexpected collision.

 

What happened immediately after the collision?

So much happened so fast. The impact from the collision spun us into a tack to port that we weren’t prepared for. Everyone who was off watch came on deck. Everyone on our boat was safe and accounted for. We checked the bow, saw the hole in the port side and went below to assess the damage. Water was flowing into our boat through the hole, and there was concern over the structural integrity of the bow.

 

How did you control the ingress of water?

We heeled the boat to starboard to keep the port bow out of the water. The sail stack was already to starboard and the starboard water ballast tank was full. We also kept the keel canted to starboard. We placed our emergency pump in the bow to pump water overboard. We were able to minimize the ingress, but the boat was difficult to maneuver because it was heeled over so much.
What actions did you take immediately after getting your boat under control?

It took roughly 20 minutes to get our boat under control, and then we headed back towards the location of the collision. Upon arrival, several people on a fishing vessel nearby were shining lights to a point on the water. Our first thought was that they could be looking for someone, so we immediately started a search and rescue. After some time searching, we eventually spotted a person in the water.

 

Who were you in communication with? Did anyone offer assistance?

We tried to contact the other vessel involved in the collision, and alerted race control straight away. When we initiated the search and rescue, our navigator immediately issued a Mayday distress call over VHF channel 16 on behalf of the fishing vessel. There were many vessels in the area, including a cruise ship with a hospital bay, but they were all standing by.

Communication was difficult. The sheer volume of traffic on the radio meant it was hard to communicate to the people we needed to. Not many people on the VHF were speaking English, but we found a way to relay messages through a cable laying vessel, and they were able to send their guard boat to aid in the search and rescue.
How was the casualty retrieved?

Difficult conditions and limited maneuverability hampered our initial efforts to retrieve the casualty. The guard boat from the cable layer provided assistance and every effort was made from all parties involved in the search and rescue. We were finally able to successfully recover the casualty after several attempts. When we got him aboard, our medics started CPR. We alerted Hong Kong Marine Rescue Coordination Centre that we had the casualty aboard and they confirmed air support was on its way. He was transferred to a helicopter and taken to a Hong Kong hospital where medical staff where unable to revive him.

 

Did any of your competitors offer assistance?

Dongfeng Race Team offered assistance. At the time, we were coordinating the search and rescue with multiple vessels, including the cable layer that had a crewman who spoke Chinese and English and was relaying our communication. We advised Dongfeng that they were not needed as there were a number of vessels in the area that were closer.

Team AkzoNobel arrived while the air transfer was in effect. Race control requested that they stand by and they did, and we later released them once the helicopter transfer was complete.

 

What happened after the search and rescue procedure was completed?

Once we knew there was nothing more we could do at the scene of the accident, we ensured our boat was still secure, and informed Volvo Ocean Race that we would retire from the leg and motor to shore. We arrived at the technical area nearby the race village and met with race officials and local authorities to give our account of what happened.

Enright Vestas 11th Hour Racing (Photo by Atila Madrona/ Vestas 11th Hour Racing )

Enright Vestas 11th Hour Racing (Photo by Atila Madrona/ Vestas 11th Hour Racing )

Team will participate in next Southern Ocean leg around Cape Horn and onward to Brazil

Auckland, New Zealand (March 2, 2018) — When Vestas 11th Hour Racing rejoins the Volvo Ocean Race for the grueling Leg 7—from New Zealand, across the Southern Ocean, past Cape Horn and into Brazil—the crew will do so with a mixture of heavy hearts and anxiousness.

The team hasn’t raced since the collision in the latter stages of Leg 4, during the final approach to Hong Kong.

Just after 0100 hours on the morning of January 20 (local Hong Kong time), Vestas 11th Hour Racing was involved in a collision with a fishing vessel. Shortly after the accident, nine Chinese fishermen were rescued, however, one other very sadly perished. The Vestas 11th Hour Racing crew were not injured, but the VO65 race yacht suffered significant damage to its port bow. See Q&A with Mark Towill, skipper of Leg 4 for additional information on the incident.

The loss of a life still weighs heavily on the minds of Mark Towill and Charlie Enright, the co-founders of the team, and every other team member. “On behalf of the team, our thoughts and prayers go out to the deceased’s family,” said 29-year-old Towill. Out of respect for the process, the deceased and his family, the team has remained silent throughout the investigation.

Towill was skipper on Leg 4 because Enright had to sit out due to a family crisis. During Leg 3, from South Africa to Australia, Enright’s 2-year-old son had been admitted to the hospital with a case of bacterial pneumonia. Immediately before the end of Leg 4, Enright traveled to Hong Kong to greet the crew at the finish line, but instead had to play an active role in the crisis management process from the shore.

“I have been asked if it would have been different if I was onboard. Definitely not,” said Enright. “The crew has been well trained in crisis situations and performed as they should. They knew what to do and I think they did a phenomenal job given the circumstances. There comes a point when family is more important than the job you’ve been hired to do and I was at that point. I did what was best for my family.”

“The team was engaged in search and rescue for more than two hours with a compromised race boat,” Enright said. “I’m very proud of our crew. We were in a very difficult situation with the damage to the bow, but everyone acted professionally and without hesitation,” added Towill.

Despite the badly damaged bow, Towill and the crew of the stricken Vestas 11th Hour Racing boat carried out a search and rescue effort, which culminated in a casualty being retrieved and transferred to a helicopter, with the assistance of Hong Kong Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre.

The Vestas 11th Hour Racing VO65 was shipped to New Zealand from Hong Kong on January 28. A new port bow section was laid up over a VO65 hull mold at Persico Marine in Italy and then sent to New Zealand, where it was spliced to the hull of the team’s VO65 in the past two weeks.

Enright and Towill both complimented team manager Bill Erkelens, who has played a central role keeping the team together since the accident. Erkelens put together Enright and Towill’s program in the 2014-’15 Volvo Ocean Race and he was the first person they hired for the current team.

The team hopes to relaunch their VO65 in the coming days and will then spend some time practicing and possibly complete an overnight sail.

In the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race, Enright and Towill’s crew led the fleet around Cape Horn by 15 minutes. It had been two weeks of thrilling racing from New Zealand, highlighted by 50-knot winds and a jibing duel along the ice boundary and a tight port/starboard crossing.

“That was an experience that’s still very fresh in my mind,” said Enright. “It was a hair-raising leg, with lots of maneuvers and heavy conditions. We’ll have to be on our toes again because the Southern Ocean demands respect. I imagine once we get a couple of days out of Auckland we’ll settle into the normal pattern of life at sea.”

Leg 7 of the Volvo Ocean Race, approximately 6,700 nautical miles to Itajaí, Brazil, is scheduled to begin March 18. Prior to that the New Zealand In-Port Race is scheduled March 10.