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Hong Kong police

Man dies after Volvo Ocean Race yacht hits mainland Chinese fishing boat near Hong Kong

Nine others rescued from sea after collision with American-Danish team

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 20 January, 2018, 10:56am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 January, 2018, 3:57pm

A man died on Saturday after a yacht competing in an around-the-world race crashed with a fishing boat just outside Hong Kong waters in the early hours.

Nine others were being treated after they were pulled from the sea.

The vessel of American-Danish team Vestas 11th Hour Racing hit the mainland fishing boat at about 2am. The latter sank and 10 fishermen fell into the sea, the organisers of the Volvo Ocean Race confirmed.

Marine police and other emergency services launched a rescue mission after the yacht’s crew sent a distress signal. The fishermen were picked up to the east of Waglan Island.

One crew member from the fishing boat was seriously injured and had to be taken to hospital by helicopter. He was confirmed dead at 6.30am, a police spokesman said.

The others were being treated at Eastern Hospital.

The racing sailors were reported safe. Their 65ft sloop was slightly damaged, the organiser said.

The police spokesman said officers were investigating.

The Volvo Ocean Race, held every three years, started in Alicante, Spain. Melbourne-Hong Kong was the fourth leg of 11 in the event.

This year’s edition stops at 12 cities, with seven teams taking about eight months to finish the voyage, which ends in The Hague, the Netherlands, in June. This is the first year that the race has stopped at Hong Kong.

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A rival team reported that Vestas 11th Hour Racing, which had retired from the leg and was proceeding under its own power to Hong Kong, had collided with a fishing boat.

A spokesman for the Government Flying Service, which sent the helicopter, said it received a call about the crash at 2.37am. The caller told the operator one crew member was missing while nine others had already been pulled up by other boats.

A rescue helicopter arrived at the scene at 4.30am to pick up the man, who was unconscious but had been pulled onto a sailing boat.

Before the crash, Vestas, led by Americans Charlie Enright and Mark Towill, had been in position to finish second in the leg, which Hong Kong-based Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag won.

Race organisers said in a statement: “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 member 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.”

It is not the first death associated with the race. A Dutch sailor died after falling overboard during the 2006 race, and three competitors died during the inaugural race in 1973-74, with two of the bodies never recovered.