Harken Derm

Tragic news from Volvo Ocean Race

Published on March 27th, 2018

(March 27, 2018) – The 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race has thus far incurred two man overboard incidents – one on Scallywag when crew member Alex Gough was washed overboard and successfully recovered during the Leg 4 from Australia to Hong Kong, and one on Scallywag that has not ended well on Leg 7 from New Zealand to Brazil.

Richard Brisius, the President of the Volvo Ocean Race, addresses the recent events involving Scallywag and crew member John Fisher.


John Fisher

This morning I am extremely sad to inform you that one of our sailors, John Fisher (47 years old), from Team Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag, is now presumed to have been lost at sea.

This is heart-breaking for all of us. 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.

Yesterday, just after 1300 UTC, Race Control for the Volvo Ocean Race were informed of a man overboard situation by Team Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag.

We immediately coordinated with the team as well as the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, who have located a ship and diverted it towards the scene. But at current speeds it remains over a day away.

With the rest of the Volvo Ocean Race fleet approximately 200 miles downwind, sending them back upwind to assist, against gale to storm force winds, was not a viable option.

The Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag team conducted an exhaustive search for several hours in extremely challenging weather conditions, but they were unable to recover their teammate.

Given the cold water temperature (9°C/48.2°F) 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.

All of us here at the Volvo Ocean Race organisation send our heartfelt condolences out to John’s family, his friends and his teammates and we will do everything in our power to support them in this very difficult time.

Team Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag has now resumed heading in a north-easterly direction (toward Chile). In fact, the team is currently in a challenging position – the weather is deteriorating and is forecast to be quite severe over the course of today.

The crew is, of course, emotionally and physically drained after what they have just experienced. Our sole focus now is to provide all the support and assistance that we can to the team.

We are sure that there will be many questions about how one of our sailors was lost overboard yesterday. We can address those after the team has been fully debriefed.

Today, our thoughts and prayers go out to John’s family and the entire Scallywag team.


John Fisher:
• Date of birth: 16 September 1970
• In: Southampton, United Kingdom
• Nationality: British
• Legs sailed in this edition: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6
• In-Port Races: Alicante, Lisbon, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland
• Something about him that you don’t know: John is from England’s south coast but now lives in Adelaide, Australia.
• Who he is: A long-term member of the Ragamuffin and Scallywag super maxi crews, Fisher has plenty of big boat experience and has sailed with skipper David Witt for many years. A Sydney-Hobart veteran, he makes the step into the Volvo Ocean Race world for the first time in 2017-18.


COURSE: Starting on March 18, Leg 7 takes the teams from Auckland, New Zealand to Itajaí, Brazil. Race organizers choose to estimate the tactical distance for each leg rather than list the actual distance, an unusual decision that’s revealed once the race starts and the tracker lists the actual distance to finish. The VOR says Leg 7 is 7600 nm whereas the truth is more like 6623 nm with an ETA in Itajaí between April 4 and 6.

For crew lists … click here.

Race detailsTrackerScoreboardRace routeFacebookYouTube

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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