Itajai stopover.In-port Race. 20 April (Photo ©  Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Itajai stopover.In-port Race. 20 April (Photo ©
Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)

MAPFRE takes a close win over team AkzoNobel and Dongfeng Race Team in Brazil In Port Race, while SHK/Scallywag race the clock to be on the start line on Sunday…

Itajai stopover.In-port Race. 20 April

Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race

The Spanish team MAPFRE won the Itajaí In-Port Race on Friday in Brazil, after battling with team AkzoNobel for the lead on the first of three laps of the race course.

A large spectator fleet was on hand to watch the racing in a moderate 10 knot sea breeze and after taking the lead on the first downwind leg, MAPFRE protected well the rest of the way.

The win allows skipper Xabi Fernández and his team to extend their advantage in the In-Port Race Series over Dongfeng Race Team who finished in third place on Friday.

“It was a good race for us today, right from the start, but the key for us was being able to pass AkzoNobel on the first downwind,” Fernández said. “From there we could stretch.

“Being the series leader is always good. We know how tight the overall race leaderboard is where we’re just one point behind Dongfeng, so this could be important at the end of the race and for that we are happy today.”

Team AkzoNobel was a close second place in Itajaí, which secures their third place position on the series leaderboard.

“When we looked at the conditions and the race course today we knew the start would be critical and we had a very good start with pace,” skipper Simeon Tienpont said. “But MAPFRE did a really good job. We were waiting for them to make a mistake but they did the best race today and we’re very happy with second place.”

Dongfeng Race Team was also content with a podium result.

Itajai stopover.In-port Race. 20 April, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)

“We didn’t have a good start but we were able to use the mistakes of the others to get back near the leaders,” skipper Charles Caudrelier said. “We sailed the rest of the race well but there was not so much opportunity.”

Turn the Tide on Plastic scored their best finish of the series with a fourth place result and has moved off the bottom of the series leaderboard.

Team Brunel had a promising start on Friday but was undone by a sail handling error at the top mark, which dropped them from challenging for the lead to battling with Vestas 11th Hour Racing at the back of the fleet.

Team SHK/Scallywag didn’t take the start on Friday, with the boat still out of the water being prepared to take the start of Leg 8 on Sunday. It’s a race against the clock to get the boat ready in time.

Itajai Stopover. Press conference. 20 April, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Earlier, at the skippers’ press conference, Scallywag’s David Witt spoke poignantly about the loss of his friend and teammate John Fisher:

“We started together 12 years ago and he was always the first guy picked… the biggest compliment I could give John is that he was the best team player I’ve ever seen. He put everyone else first.

“For me, he was my best mate. Sunday will be a bit weird – it will be the first time I’ve gone to sea without him in 12 years…

“But we’ve had amazing support from within the Volvo Ocean Race family. The character of the people in this race has been exemplified by the way we’ve been supported by the other competitors in this race… I’m sure John would be very proud about that.

“The best thing we can do in John’s memory is get on with the job on Sunday… If he was standing behind be right now he’d be telling me to harden up and get on with it and that’s what we’re going to do on Sunday.”

 

Itajai Stopover. Press conference. 20 April, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Leg 8 of the Volvo Ocean Race, from Itajaí, Brazil to Newport, Rhode Island, starts on Sunday 22 April.

Itajaí In-Port Race — Results
1. MAPFRE – 7 points
2. Team AkzoNobel – 6 points
3. Dongfeng Race Team – 5 points
4. Turn the Tide on Plastic – 4 points
5. Team Brunel – 3 points
6. Vestas 11th Hour Racing – 2 points
7. Team SHK/Scallywag – did not start

Current Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Race Series Leaderboard
1. MAPFRE – 44 points
2. Dongfeng Race Team – 39 points
3. team AkzoNobel – 33 points
4. Team Brunel – 29 points
5. Vestas 11th Hour Racing – 18 points
6. Turn the Tide on Plastic – 15 points
7. Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag – 15 points

 

Itajai stopover.In-port Race. 20 April (Photo ©  Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race)

Itajai stopover.In-port Race. 20 April (Photo ©
Pedro Martinez/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.

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. ( Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. ( Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Team AkzoNobel took the win in the HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong on a challenging afternoon on the waters of Kowloon Bay.

The wind during race time was a 6 to 10 knot Easterly, but it was very shifty and puffy, and with a tidal current running on the race course, it was a difficult day for the tacticians.

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

“We had a fantastic race, pretty exciting. We planned to sail our own race today. It was tricky enough with the tide and the windshifts,” said team AkzoNobel skipper Simeon Tienpont.

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. ( Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. ( Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

“The team sailed an unbelievable race and the guys in the back of the boat played the tactics very well… It’s good when things come together. It’s a nice reward for all the effort the team has put in.”

Dongfeng Race Team finished in second place, with Team Brunel third. The two swapped places on the third lap of the course after a solid upwind leg by Brunel gave them the lead, but the Dongfeng crew fought back on the run to secure second place.

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

A fourth place finish on Saturday by the series leader MAPFRE means Dongfeng vaults to the top of the table.

But it’s a tight leaderboard and it could compress further following Sunday’s Around Hong Kong Island Race, when results of the weekend of racing will be combined to assign the points from this stopover.

Hong Kong’s hometown heroes Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag had a fantastic start, but fell back and battled to a fifth place finish over Turn the Tide on Plastic on Saturday. Both teams will be determined to move up with a better result on Sunday.

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

The Around Hong Kong Island Race is scheduled to start at 11:30am local time in Hong Kong (0330 UTC). There will be live coverage of the start and finish of Sunday’s race on www.volvooceanrace.com, on Facebook and Twitter @volvooceanrace. Fans will be able to follow the full race on the tracker via www.volvooceanrace.com.

Vestas 11th Hour Racing will not race this weekend or on Leg 5 to Guangzhou next week as the team coordinates repairs to its boat – see more here.

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. (Photo © Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Current Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Race leaderboard 
Dongfeng Race Team – 24 points
MAPFRE – 23 points
team AkzoNobel – 18 points
Team Brunel – 18 points
Vestas 11th Hour Racing – 12 points
Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag – 9 points
Turn the Tide on Plastic – 7 points

*** Note: The above leaderboard reflects full points assigned from Saturday’s HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. On Sunday, the results of the Around Hong Kong Island race will be combined with Saturday’s HGC In-Port Race to award the overall leader from this weekend’s racing a maximum of seven points from Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018.  (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race )

Hong Kong Stopover. HGC In-Port Race Hong Kong. 27 January, 2018. (Photo © Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race )

eg 4, Melbourne to Hong Kong, day 17, Photo by Amory Ross/Volvo Ocean Race. 18 January, 2018.

Leg 4, Melbourne to Hong Kong, day 17, Photo by Amory Ross/Volvo Ocean Race. 18 January, 2018.

The Volvo Ocean Race can confirm Vestas 11th Hour Racing, one of the teams competing in the 2017-18 race, has been involved in a collision with a non-race vessel before the finish of Leg 4, near Hong Kong.

The team has retired from Leg 4 and is proceeding to Hong Kong unassisted and under its own power.

Race Control at Volvo Ocean Race headquarters was informed of the collision by the team moments after it happened at approximately 17:23 UTC on Friday January 19, 2018 (01:23 local time on Saturday morning).

The Vestas 11th Hour Racing team issued a Mayday distress call on behalf of the other vessel, alerting the Hong Kong Marine Rescue Coordination Centre (HKMRCC) and undertook a search and rescue mission.

HKMRCC has informed Race Control that a commercial vessel in the area was able to rescue nine of the crew and that a tenth crew member was taken by helicopter to hospital.

All of the crew on Vestas 11th Hour Racing are safe. Their boat suffered damage and the team has officially retired from the leg, but the team is able to motor to shore.

The Volvo Ocean Race is deeply saddened to inform that the collision between Vestas 11th Hour Racing, a team competing in the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18, and a fishing vessel has resulted in a fatality of a crew of the fishing vessel.

On behalf of the Volvo Ocean Race and Vestas 11th Hour Racing, we offer our deepest condolences to the loved ones of the deceased.

The incident occurred approximately 30 miles from the finish of Leg 4, outside of Hong Kong waters. Race Control at Volvo Ocean Race headquarters was informed of the collision by the team moments after it happened at approximately 17:23 UTC on Friday January 19, 2018 (01:23 local time on Saturday morning).

The Vestas 11th Hour Racing team, none of whom were injured in the collision, issued a Mayday distress call on behalf of the other vessel, alerting the Hong Kong Marine Rescue Coordination Centre (HKMRCC) and undertook a search and rescue mission.

HKMRCC informed Race Control that a commercial vessel in the area was able to rescue nine of the crew and that a tenth crew member was taken by helicopter to hospital. HKMRCC has since confirmed the death of the air-lifted crew member.

Volvo Ocean Race and Vestas 11th Hour Racing are now focused on providing immediate support to those affected by this incident.

All involved organisations are co-operating with the authorities and are fully supporting the ongoing investigation.

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

The local heroes on Xabi Fernàndez’s MAPFRE were a popular winner in the first point scoring race of the Volvo Ocean Race.

The local heroes on Xabi Fernández’s MAPFRE were a popular winner in the first point scoring race of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Fernández and his team made a bold call at the start to duck behind the entire fleet in order to sail up what turned out to be the favoured right hand side of the course, coming from behind to earn a narrow lead at the first gate.

“It was pretty clear from Joan (Vila) and Rob (Greenhalgh) that we wanted to hit the right side of the course in the first upwind looking for more breeze,” explained Fernández.

“Our intention was to start on port but Pablo (Arrarte) saw the gap himself when Brunel did a poor tack and they couldn’t accelerate so we want for the cross and we had plenty of room and once we hit the right everything went well.”

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

MAPFRE then managed to stretch out to a lead of nearly one-minute at the bottom gate, giving them a lead they would enjoy the rest of the way.

“The truth is it hasn’t been an easy race but we took a bit of a risk at the start,” Fernández said after the finish. “We saw the gap in front of Brunel and we went for it. Everything went really well.”

In fact, the Spanish team sailed a flawless race, in terms of strategy and execution, and were never threatened after grabbing the lead at the first mark.

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

But behind them, it was a hard-fought race. Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag was strong on the first leg, but dropped back over the course of the race. In contrast, Dongfeng Race Team fought up the fleet to grab second place, battling with Vestas 11th Hour Racing and Team Brunel who were trading places throughout the race.

“There was a lot of action! MAPFRE played their own game alone but behind them, we had a big fight for second place. It’s good, it’s good,” said skipper Charles Caudrelier on Dongfeng Race Team.

“We showed how we can sail well, after having not such good results in the last few days. It’s great that we managed to come back and get this result.”

“It was a very exciting first In-Port Race for us,” said Charlie Enright, the skipper of Vestas 11th Hour Racing. “They’re always really close. You know, when you’re racing these 65-foot canting keel boats around a one-mile track it gets interesting, with a lot of exchanges and big headsails and a lot of grinding. We did some good things and some bad things and got third place. All in all, not a bad way to start the campaign.”

“I had a bad start and that put us on the back foot,” said Bouwe Bekking the skipper of Team Brunel. “But we sailed the boat very nicely. All in all, we’re pretty happy with how we sailed today.”

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race.

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Pedro Martinez/Volvo Ocean Race.

Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag made a late gain to grab fifth over team AkzoNobel with Turn the Tide on Plastic never recovering from a poor first leg.

“It was okay. Fifth’s not great but it was okay. We were second at the top but we just made one mistake on the first run and it cost us. Basically, it was good. Amazing to be racing here in Alicante,” said David Witt, the skipper of Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag.

MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante — Results

Position Team Elapsed Time Points
1 MAPFRE 54:38 7
2 Dongfeng Race Team 56:06 6
3 Vestas 11th Hour Racing 56:54 5
4 Team Brunel 57:13 4
5 Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag 58:07 3
6 team AkzoNobel 58:31 2
7 Turn the Tide on Plastic 59:39 1
Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.

Alicante stopover. MAPFRE In-Port Race Alicante. Photo by Ainhoa Sanchez/Volvo Ocean Race. 14 October, 2017.