March 27, 2018 22:05:34
Adelaide sailor John Fisher fell overboard during a team yacht race from New Zealand to Brazil. (Twitter: @scallywaghk)
Sydney to Hobart veteran missing in Southern Ocean after falling overboard
An Adelaide-based sailor who fell overboard during a round-the-world yacht race is now presumed to have been lost at sea.
Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag crew member John Fisher fell overboard about 2,300 kilometres west of Cape Horn, off the coast of Chile, at about 01:00pm UTC.
Mr Fisher’s team conducted an extensive search for several hours during stormy conditions, but were unable to recover him.
“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,” Volvo Ocean Race president Richard Brisius said in a statement.
“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.”
Hong Kong’s Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag uses a Super Maxi to compete. (Twitter: @scallywaghk)
Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag said they did everything they could to recover Mr Fisher, but made the “difficult decision” to head for landfall due to worsening conditions and nightfall approaching.
“Witty and the Scallywag crew have been battling extremely treacherous conditions in the Southern Ocean and this tragedy is heartbreaking,” the team’s owner said in a statement.
Mr Fisher, a 47-year-old British citizen who lived in Adelaide, was a member of the local Christies Sailing Club, which described Mr Fisher as a “treasured member of our family”.
“John came to our club around 10 years ago and immediately injected his passion for the sport of sailing which was picked up by all of our sailing members, especially our juniors,” the club said in a statement.
“It soon became evident that this man could sail a bath tub with a handkerchief as a sail and could still out-sail anyone.”
Christies Sailing Club said Mr Fisher had raced in “almost every major regatta around the globe”, but that the Volvo Ocean Race was his holy grail.
“He told us that he used to watch the Volvo (Whitbread, as it was formally known) leave Southampton from where he grew up and thought, ‘One day I will do that race’.”
March 27, 2018 21:33:20