Volvo Ocean Race - John Fisher

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by JosephT, Mar 29, 2018.

  1. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    Sad news about the loss of John Fisher. On approach to Cape Horn in rough seas he as lost at sea. Word is he was not tethered on the moment he was struck by the boom during an accidental jibe. A 7 hour search was conducted and they could never find him in the horrendous conditions.

    RIP to a fine sailor and a reminder to always remain tethered especially in rough conditions.

    Update from Team Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag https://www.volvooceanrace.com/en/news/11370_Update-from-Team-Sun-Hung-Kai-Scallywag.html
     
  2. Angélique
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    Angélique aka Angel (only by name)

    Thanks for sharing the sad news Joseph,

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    It's unbelievable these kind of thing happen on this level, in the 2014-2015 race Team Vestas Wind became shipwrecked in the Indian Ocean because no one cared to zoom in on the digital charts, so they flew full speed into a reef in front of an island, while they have a full time navigator onboard.


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    And then now this far more serious incident with a sailor killed, it's time safety measures become mandatory on the VOR, and not something that just voluntarily has to be followed up only by the ones who care to take the time and trouble for it.

    RIP John Fisher . . :(

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    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
  3. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    From what I read in another report he un-clipped for just a moment and was suddenly hit by the boom in a crash jibe. Poof...he was knocked overboard. I sailed a shorter 5k mile leg of the Southern Ocean a few years back. I can tell you it takes no prisoners. We used a 3 way tether that improved mobility, but always attached us to at least one point on deck. Once you get used to them they really help. When the boat crashes side to side, up and down the 3 way tether can pin you down nice and keep you from bouncing. It saved my life at least once a day. Yes they restrict mobility to a reasonable degree, but at least you remain on the boat. That's what's most important.

    Very sad indeed. You're right the grounding incident and now this. The VOR will definitely need to regroup and be persistent on crew & vessel safety. Despite all efforts though, offshore sailing will remain very dangerous...especially in the extreme southern & northern latitudes. When the crew as a whole gets a little soft on safety rules...that's when the devil can rear his ugly head and take your life. Training, self discipline & strong crew procedures are key to getting home safe. If you see a crew member taking a risk...call them out on it. You're doing it because you care for them. After the voyage, they'll appreciate you all the better and you'll remain friends for life.
     
  4. Angélique
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    Angélique aka Angel (only by name)

    Also in this year's VOR, in January in the 4th leg, team Vestas 11th Hour Racing had a collision (pics) with a Chinese fishing vessel in the South China Sea off Hong Kong.

    One Chinese fisherman was killed, nine others of the fishing boat’s crews were rescued by Hong Kong marine rescue teams.

    Vestas 11th Hour Racing expressed their condolences¹, and then after the repairs they rejoined the race at the start of the 7th leg.

    ¹ ‘‘ On behalf of Vestas 11th Hour Racing and the Volvo Ocean Race, we offer our deepest condolences to the loved ones of the deceased. ’’

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    The New York Times: Volvo Ocean Race Yacht Involved in Fatal Accident Near Hong Kong Jan. 20, 2018

    Yachting World: Vestas skipper gives first account of fatal collision, and Volvo Race launch report on racing in high traffic areas March 2, 2018

    Stuff (NZ news): Damaged round the world race yacht back in water in Auckland after fatal Hong Kong accident March 6, 2018

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    Last edited: Mar 30, 2018
  5. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    I recall that accident. Racing at night through busy fishing traffic. Bad mix. The crew relied on electronic AIS and their own vision in the darkness to spot other vessels. Didn't work. Some fishing boats didn't use AIS and did not have proper nav lights. Some were obviously hard to see. Boom collision.

    The Vestas skipper was not arrested because he made an earnest effort to assist in the rescue. The fishing vessel was apparently poorly lit as well. Not good either. A very sad and humbling experience to be sure. Yacht racing and busy traffic zones just don't mix. Especially at night.
     
  6. philSweet
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    philSweet Senior Member

    So looking at the boat, the mainsheet system prevents them from rigging a jackline from the helm to the forward half of the cockpit? Seriously? I don't think so. Use a pair along the rails. The only time these people should have the option of not being hooked in is when they are lying down in their bunks. And they should have harnesses on even then.

    And, um, what happened to the preventer and boom brake? They weren't mentioned in the timeline.
     
  7. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    Excellent points philSweet. A lot of scrutiny on the lack of boom preventer. Didn't notice the jack lines, but if there are places to tether that would help too. In the aft area we mainly tether to fixed tether pads. Can't believe they didn't use a preventer.
     
  8. Angélique
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    Angélique aka Angel (only by name)

    In leg 4 Alex Gough went overboard of the same boat, they retrieved him within a few minutes, being just lucky it was in pretty nice weather and at day time.

    Despite the good speed* before he went over no one was tethered nor wearing a PFD, this is including the MOB not wearing a PFD.

    * they eventually even won the leg

    Lucky for those interested (eg me) they did care to make a video of it, however the main reason for that could be: any publicity = publicity.

    The vid start as soon as one had grabbed a cam, the MOB procedure was already going on then...


    This vid makes clear these guys and gals don't care much about safety measures in practice, and although they did win that leg, 3 legs later they lost the next one for always, so I wonder what they'd learned from their first MOB in the race. In the above video John can be seen several times.

    Below John's picture (in the foreground) as shown on the post #1 linked page, which alas also shows little safety care, including the helmsman not being tethered, which is all over the web now.

    [​IMG]
    pic source

    The team now also has posted a video with a tribute to John, in which they talk about safety care, though note what the vid shows about that...

     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2018
  9. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    Excellent clips & feedback Angelique. All it takes is for crew alertness to get just a little soft and it's very easy for a MOB situation to occur. The skipper is squarely responsible for establishing the rule and mindset on board. You are right. It's doesn't take much to realize the crew is putting safety 2nd. None of them are wearing inflatable PFDs (and embedded personal locating beacons). These are the standard today for many racers.

    Good man gone.
     
  10. Angélique
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    Angélique aka Angel (only by name)

    In the below video Pip Hare demonstrates a Walder boom brake, and a Wichard Gyb’Easy, and a Sailfuse, and a traditional rope preventer rigged to lead forward and then back to the cockpit, but alas she had no wind when she demonstrates...

     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2018
  11. Angélique
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    Angélique aka Angel (only by name)

    While typing post #4 I was thinking, what did the shock of the collision do to Vestas' mast and rigging, but I assumed this was sufficiently checked and where needed replaced during the major port side bow repairs, but now I read Vestas 11th Hour Racing was dismasted in only 25 to 30 knots of wind with only 3 m (9.8') wave heights. This happened in the first leg after they rejoined the race after the fishing boat collision, don't know if it's related of course, since there's no news about the cause yet, but it just could be I'll think.

     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2018

  12. Angélique
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    Angélique aka Angel (only by name)

    Vestas dismasting update:

    Volvo Ocean Race Team Brunel and Dongfeng battle for the lead as Vestas 11th Hour Racing arrive in Falklands March 31, 2018

    ‘‘ Vestas 11th Hour Racing has now arrived in Port Stanley, Falkland Islands, after dismasting on Friday.


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    No one was hurt when the rig came down and the team was able to clear away the damage and proceed under its own power to the Falklands.

    “I was driving at the time,” said navigator Simon Fisher. “There was a big bang and the rig broke just above the first spreader... The top of the mast landed in the water with the stump sticking up… To protect the integrity of the hull, we had to cut everything away.”

    The Vestas 11th Hour Racing team is currently working through several logistical scenarios to re-join the fleet in Itajaí.

    “It's a challenge. The whole thing is a challenge,” said crew member Stacey Jackson. “Whether you are racing the weather or the elements or setbacks like this. I think it just tells the story that this race is about overcoming difficulties…” ’’

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    Vestas' dismasting video #1

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    P.S. - There's a bit more info in Vestas' dismasting video #2 on VOR twitter. (need to start the video sound there)

    And again a bit more info: Vestas' dismasting video #3 on Vestas twitter. (need to start the video sound there)
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2018
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