Volvo Race Accident


I feel your pain.


It’s obvious that they were traveling at an unsafe speed.

And right up there with an Italian cruise ship doing ‘flybys’ to impress the crowd.


Here is a better shot of the chart. The orange boat is Vestas just after the collision while she is doing a S&R pattern and drifting down wind. She is in international waters, about 45m of depth, 10NM from the outer sea buoy and 20NM from the TSS.

It is hard to argue that she was travelling at safe speed, since the collision obviously occurred. What we don’t know is what caused the collision. Speculation on the web is that the fishing boat had AIS but was not using it. I think the mystery is whether or not the fishing boat was displaying any lights and why Vestas wasn’t using radar.


Do they even see fit to put radar on these racing boats that have such a tight weight budget? If so, would anybody know how to use it? And… the lack of radar or AIS info does not excuse what another has posted, it’s idiotic, unprofessional, and negligent to have a race in a high traffic area.



I would guess there is probably 50+ fishing boats not shown in this graphic on the eastern approach area. It can be a frigging nightmare.


Ocean racing is a very expensive high risk sport. The guys that run these sponsored ocean racing boats are very experienced and highly skilled. There is a strong safety culture, but also a high tolerance for risk. That is the nature of this high risk, highly competitive sport.


That’s right, it’d be a mistake to lump these ocean racers into the same category as the WAFIIs encountered on a sunny weekend day.


The Volvo race is moved a long way from its beginnings as the Whitbread race. The original yachts offered showers and a cook. The present ones are a semi furnished sewer pipe. A curtain around the throne room, pipe cots and a single gimbaled burner to eat freeze dried food are offered. In return the crew get to experience to me the doubtful pleasures of helming a yacht at speeds in excess of 30 knots in the Southern Ocean. The original race followed the same route around the world as The windjammers and there was little contact with fishing fleets but these days the sponsors call the shots.
The crew are professionals that move to other events including the America’s Cup and a few have made millions from their involvement.


An update supports my theory based on the damage to the Vestas hull that they did not hit a fishing boat but snagged a piece of fishing gear attached to a boat as well as addressing the dangerous practice of racing in commercial traffic areas.

What were the conditions like? What could you see?

It was a dark and cloudy night, with a breeze of around 20 knots and a moderate sea state. As we approached the fishing vessel that we had identified on AIS, the on-deck crew confirmed visual contact – the fishing vessel was well lit – and we headed up to starboard to keep clear. I was watching AIS and communicating the range and bearing to the crew. The crew confirmed we were crossing the fishing vessel when, before the anticipated cross, there was an unexpected collision.


Hong Kong is among the world’s busiest ports, and some critics now say it should never have been used as the finish line of a Volvo Ocean Race leg. They argue that to ask 65-foot-long racing boats to weave through local traffic in the middle of the night at high speed is unrealistic.

But others are slower to criticize, like Chesapeake Bay Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Joe Evans, also an experienced racer:

“The tragic Volvo Race accident is just that—a tragedy. It seems to me that it’s not right to lay blame while details of the event are yet to come…Whether fishing or racing, we understand that there’s substantial risk at sea. We accept that by the very act of stepping onboard. I’m not going to be an armchair sailor speculating or rendering judgment on those involved any more than I would venture to tell Joe Flacco what he should have done to win the game. It’s tragic. That’s all.”

The questions that remain to be answered include, Did the fishing boat have proper nighttime running lights? And, How could this tragedy have been avoided?

Race officials say they and the Vestas crew are working with Hong Kong Police and the Maritime Authority in the investigation.


I heard the boat they hit was being towed, no lights and no ais and small enough ( they sunk it) not to be seen on radar.
Both Volvo the chinese car part (Geely) and the Marine part ( that Geely owns some of) sponsor the race.
I think the crew will get a get out of jail free card


The Vestas article says what they didn’t hit (the lit fishing vessel) but not what they did hit. It also doesn’t say how far behind the lit vessel they were planning on crossing.




yes I noticed that…