January 20, 2018 / 4:18 PM / 8 months ago

Sailing: Vestas withdraws from Volvo Ocean fourth leg after fatal collision

(Reuters) - Vestas 11th Hour Racing withdrew from the fourth leg of the Volvo Ocean Race on Saturday after a fatal collision with a fishing boat on the approach to Hong Kong.

Organizers said in a statement that a member of the fishing vessel’s crew had died after being taken to hospital by helicopter.

None of those on board Vestas were injured, with the team issuing a Mayday distress call on behalf of the other boat to alert the Hong Kong Marine Rescue Coordination Centre (HKMRCC).

“The incident occurred approximately 30 miles from the finish of Leg Four, outside of Hong Kong waters,” the statement said.

“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 (01:23 local time on Saturday morning).

“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.”

Organizers said the U.S./Danish entry had retired from the leg — which started in Melbourne and ended in Hong Kong — with the boat proceeding to Hong Kong unassisted and under its own power.

American Mark Towill, a team co-founder with Charlie Enright, was the skipper for Leg Four. The team won the opening leg of the race in October and had been on course to finish second in Leg Four.

The 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race started from Alicante, Spain, on Oct. 22 and covers 45,000 nautical miles (83,000 km) around the world, featuring a total of 12 host ports. It ends in The Hague, Netherlands, at the end of June.

The fourth leg was won by Hong Kong-based Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, skippered by Australian David Witt.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ken Ferris

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