Volvo Race Accident

I have not been able to find any details of the how and why of the Volvo race accident off the coast of Hong Kong.

Very little information has been released so far. They were reportedly travelling at 20 kts in over 20 kts of wind prior to the collision. This is the same outfit that grounded on the Cargados Carajos Shoals in the previous running of the race 3 years ago. It seems odd that a fishing boat substantial enough to carry a crew of 10 could be sunk by a sailboat especially when it appears from the damage that the sailboat is the one that got hit but it’s obviously too early to tell.
Here’s a photo of the damage to the port bow of the Vestas boat.

I think that, as with the other recent collisions, it will be some time before the breakdown of events is made public - all being “sub-judice”. HK & approaches is a crowded place.
This is one of the better articles I’ve seen - sums it up as well as can be expected for now.

1 Like

Interesting post at SA. A couple points that I think may not be right, a lot of F/Vs in that area do in fact have AIS, they also have AIS on their gear, usually just a number instead of a name. Also I don’t think that they turn out their lights so as not to been seen by the competition. They are usually encountered in large, dense groups.

Thanks so much to Lee Shore and Binbag for responding so quickly. The
Sailing Anarchy article is brilliant. Filled with truth and compassion.

In 2014 it cost a team $20 million dollars to enter the Volvo race. These guys are sponsored by multi-billion dollar corporations. The geniuses in charge of the race decide to race thru one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world? The majority of the vessels in this area, fishing or otherwise are manned by regular people just trying to make a living. That the crew of Vestas saved the lives of some of the poor guys on the fishing boat is nice; it’s the least they could do as those guys would be fishing today if they hadn’t met a bunch of people playing a game. Why not hold the US Grand Prix motor race on the interstate highway during rush hour in Atlanta. Makes about as much sense.


That’s a valid point and I agree 100%. After I quit sailing commercially, I got involved with local yacht clubs as a race official. My first concern in designing courses is to avoid commercial traffic and fishing grounds. Safety is my first concern, everything else is secondary.
The astronomically high cost of fielding an entry in the Volvo race is only possible with corporate backing so organizers use places like Hong Kong as stopovers to maximize exposure. From Hong Kong where an in port race is planned, their next stops are Auckland, Itajai, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg and The Hague.

Does anyone have a description of the fishing vessel?

This would be a fairly typical offshore fishing vessel in Hong Kong waters:

Closer inshore this may be more typical:

I don’t agree in the least. Point to point distance races are believed to have started with sailboats in the Netherlands some time in the 17th century. Who started them? It was commercial ships that took pride in their speed advantage.

Although I do agree that safety should be a top concern, I’m not sure it isn’t (especially with the fully professional crews that participate in the Volvo). This accident occurred 30 miles outside of port in open waters. And even if the race curtailed the course further out, the boats would still need to navigate back to dock following the race. It doesn’t seem any more realistic to ban a sailing yacht from a particularly busy harbor than it would to ban fishing boats.

While unfortunate and regrettable, the fact that this collision involved both a race boat and a non-participating vessel seems no more incendiary than any other collision at sea. All the mariners involved (the sailors and the fishermen) were professionals trying to make a living.

With a crew of ten I would guess a vessel somewhere in between in size. I don’t expect the news blackout to last long. Meanwhile, there are a few oddities with what we know so far. The fishing boat, presumably a heavier vessel , sank and the crew ended up in the water while no one on the much lighter sailboat suffered a scratch. There doesn’t appear to be any damage to the bow of the sailboat. The hole on the port side of Vestas’ bow is low, just above the waterline and there’s no crease to indicate the imprint from a prow there either. Here’s a theory on the little we know. The Vestas rammed a piece of fishing gear which lodged through their port bow. The fishing gear connected high up on an overcrowded fishing boat with low freeboard. With a 20 knot momentum and the pull of the sails in 20 plus knots of wind, it yanked the boat over and kept it there just long enough to flood and sink.

You mean one of these??:
They usually operate fairly close inshore though.

That’s nice, thank you for mentioning it. In the 19th century, gentlemen in blazers raced their elegant schooners across the Atlantic. So who gives a shit, it has nothing with planning safe races and not becoming whores sacrificed on the altar of corporate greed.

So we should be racing container ships. Sounds like fun but again completely irrelevant.

Open waters my ass. Are you looking at a paper chart? Look at AIS displays if you haven’t been there.

Boofuckinghoo. They would navigate the approaches under power and concentrate on traffic. Smarter than racing through a fishing fleet with wind shifts in the dark of night. There’s no need to race to the dock in a 6000 mile race. The finish line can be set anywhere away from traffic.

Who said anything about banning sailing yachts from busy harbors? It’s about racing in safe conditions and not putting people in harm’s way. Taking risks while isolated on open ocean is one thing. Dodging fishing fleets with gear out at 20 knots in the middle of the night to thrill spectators at the finish line is something else. It’s for the same reason that oxen races through the center of town are no longer tolerated.

As a crowning statement, that’s pretty funny. The top 3 guys on each sailboat are making more money for that one race than a boat load of those fishermen can dream of making in a lifetime. The monkeys who do the heavy grinding are athletes but they’re in for the glory, the camaraderie and the groupies, not necessarily in that order. Does that give them special privileges?
I don’t think so.

1 Like

I couldn’t tell you. I’ve never sailed in that part of the world. I don’t think my theory would work with that particular vessel. It looks to be about the same length as the Vestas and much heavier…

Thanks for the pictures.

Thanks for this picture as well. The theory that the sailboat hit some part of the fishing apparatus
and pulled the boat over seems the most plausible at this point. So, so sad but I can’t
help but be intrigued by how exactly it happened.

You’re an ass. I have been to HK and it doesn’t get more open than where the collision occurred. Your assumption is that because the boat was racing then it must have been unsafe? The correlation tengineer made between a grand prix on the highway and a boat race in the ocean doesn’t hold water. For starts, the Volvo boats have to follow the same COLREGS as you and I.

1 Like

Yup, surprise surprise, a blanc navionics chart with no AIS overlay. Your endless capacity to spew out unrelated platitudes and now name calling shows your level of intelligence. Goodbye

Courtesy of another member