Man Overboard in Volvo Ocean Race

Published on January 14th, 2018

(January 14, 2018; Leg 4; Day 13) – The 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race incurred a dramatic man overboard scenario as Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag crew member Alex Gough was washed overboard near midday local time today as the team competes in the leg from Australia to Hong Kong.

In winds of 15-20 knots, the incident occurred during a sail change where he had gone outside the lifelines on the outrigger. The team swung into recovery mode, and Gough was back on board within seven minutes, unharmed. Scallywag resumed racing immediately.

“It’s shown everyone how hard it is to see the guy in the water,” said skipper David Witt. “Even on a sunny day, 18 knots of wind… You wouldn’t want to be doing this in 20 knots in the dark.”

Gough wasn’t wearing a harness or a lifejacket. Witt says he should have been tethered, or at minimum have told the helmsman what he was doing, before he went outside the lifelines on the outrigger.

“I was pretty stupid, but luckily the guys were on to it. They turned around bloody quickly,” Gough said, who had gotten caught by a wave that picked him up and threw him off. “I’m good. I’m fine. It was a bit scary… but off we go again.”

Navigator Libby Greenhalgh provides this recap:
“Seven minutes from the call to Alex being back onboard. Seven minutes that felt like half an hour. Seven minutes when 50% of the time we couldn’t physically see him in the water dressed in black.

“It was one minute before what had happened had woken me and I was pushing the Man Overboard button on my computer. It was 30 seconds before anything was physically thrown off the boat, by which point it was the best part of 300M away from Alex. When we picked him up he was roughly 100M away from where he had fallen in.

“The efficiency with which this was all achieved is testimony to the core crew and those of us that have gelled around it, who remained so calm under pressure that once Alex was back onboard and confirmed okay the crew simply slipped into the peel to MH0 that we had previously been discussing and carried on charging towards Hong Kong.”


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Leg 4 – Position Report (19:00 UTC)
1. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 2087.4 nm DTF
2. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Mark Towill (USA), 48.2 nm DTL
3. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 62.2 nm DTL
4. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 65.0 nm DTL
5. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 147.7 nm DTL
6. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 178.6 nm DTL
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 191.0 nm DTL
DTF – Distance to Finish; DTL – Distance to Lead

Beginning on January 2, Leg 4 is a 5,600 nautical mile race up the east coast of Australia from Melbourne, into the Coral Sea and up north to Hong Kong.

Overall Results (after 3 of 11 legs)
1. MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP), 29 points
2. Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 23
3. Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA), 23
4. Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED), 14
5. Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS), 11
6. Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED), 9
7. Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR), 6

2017-18 Edition: Entered Teams – Skippers
Team AkzoNobel (NED), Simeon Tienpont (NED)
Dongfeng Race Team (CHN), Charles Caudrelier (FRA)
MAPFRE (ESP), Xabi Fernández (ESP)
Vestas 11th Hour Racing (DEN/USA), Charlie Enright (USA)
Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag (HKG), David Witt (AUS)
Turn the Tide on Plastic (POR), Dee Caffari (GBR)
Team Brunel (NED), Bouwe Bekking (NED)

Background: Racing the one design Volvo Ocean 65, the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race begins in Alicante, Spain on October 22 2017 with the final finish in The Hague, Netherlands on June 30 2018. In total, the 11-leg race will visit 12 cities in six continents: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajaí, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg, and The Hague. A maximum of eight teams will compete.

Source: Volvo Ocean Race

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