2018-02-08 / News

After crash, Vestas not with fleet for Auckland leg

The American team in the Volvo Ocean Race will skip the leg to New Zealand while workers continue repairing the boat’s hull.

Vestas 11th Hour Racing was damaged in a fatal collision with a Chinese fishing boat about 30 miles from the finish line during the 6,000-mile leg from Melbourne to Hong Kong. While the Jan. 19 crash resulted in the death of a Chinese fisherman, nobody on the Vestas boat was harmed.

The shore crew loaded the yacht Monday onto a freight vessel in Hong Kong for transportation to Auckland. The challenge of the damage, along with the exacting standards set by the Volvo Ocean 65 one-design rule, made it impractical to repair the boat in Hong Kong in time for yesterday’s departure of the fleet. Among the repairs, the boat will have a new bow section built at Persico Marine in Italy, which will then be shipped to New Zealand.

“With a seriously damaged boat and a new set of challenges to surmount, we have had to map out the necessary steps that will enable our team to get back in the race,” said Hawaiian Mark Towill, the former Brown University sailor who was at the helm during the collision. The team’s regular skipper, Bristol native Charlie Enright, was stateside during that leg because of a family medical emergency.

The Vestas team expects to have repairs completed during the stopover in Auckland in time for inshore racing and the start of the leg to Brazil, which is scheduled for March 18. The fleet is expected to arrive in Narragansett Bay from Brazil in mid-May for its only North American stopover. The boats will depart Newport May 20 for the transatlantic leg to Cardiff, Wales.

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