Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18

With Scallywag tragedy weighing heavily, Hong Kong’s Tiger Mok will be reinforcing safety in race to Philippines

Tiger Mok pays tribute to a ‘remarkable person’ who helped him out during his time as part of the Scallywag crew

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 March, 2018, 8:11am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 March, 2018, 10:19pm

Hong Kong sailor Tiger Mok embarks on a race to the Philippines on Wednesday carrying a heavy heart for former teammate John Fisher, who is presumed lost at sea.

The 47-year-old Fisher went overboard in the treacherous Southern Ocean on Monday during the Volvo Ocean Race. The Briton was on Hong Kong boat Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, with Mok part of the crew early in the campaign.

“It’s extremely sad because John was my teammate. It’s hard to imagine all of a sudden one of your friends – or anyone you know within the race – has gone missing,” Mok said.

Scallywag sailor John Fisher ‘presumed lost at sea’ – crew of Hong Kong boat heartbroken

“That was very scary to learn because the water temperature in the Southern Ocean is very low and training told us the survival time in those waters is a few hours maximum,” Mok said.

Mok was Scallywag’s shore manager from July to November last year – before and during the start of the round-the-world race. The 37-year-old joined the crew on the boat from Alicante, Spain, to Lisbon, Portugal, but did not feature from the second leg onwards.

Fisher’s expertise and wisdom proved invaluable for Mok as he ran the boat’s operations on land.

“John took up leadership operations wise and became familiar with each crew member’s performances, strengths and knowledge. We took time to get along at the beginning, but halfway through preparations ahead of the race, we became very good friends.

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“John is a remarkable person. He always reached out to me despite his extremely busy schedule as a sailor ... he spent his extra time to stop and help me out.

“He just understood where I was coming from – where my strengths and weaknesses were – and he was always very keen to help everyone.”

Having had a stint on the Scallywag, Mok is more than familiar with the 22.14-metre long vessel.

“The winds are strong and the sea is high,” he said. “By the time you notice a man overboard to the time you recover them is very long. It almost becomes impossible to spot them in the high seas, especially on the Volvo 65 boats travelling very fast ... you could easily pull a mile in distance to the person.”

Mok recalled seeing Fisher’s family in Alicante as they sent the boat off for the race’s first leg.

“I send them my best wishes. I can’t imagine what they are going through right now and I hope we can recover John.”

Mok will be thinking of his former teammate as he and his Seawolf crewmates set off to Subic Bay, the Philippines, for the smaller-scale Rolex China Sea race starting on Wednesday.

“We will remind ourselves that crossing the ocean is dangerous and with John still in my mind, I will really reinforce the safety aspect to my teammates throughout the race.”