Vestas 11th Hour Racing Collision Results in Fisherman Fatality

Vestas 11th Hour Racing Collision Results in Fisherman Fatality
Vestas 11th Hour Racing motoring into Hong Kong after the collision.

In a tragic sequence of events Friday, the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) entry Vestas 11th Hour Racing collided with a fishing boat about 30 miles from the finish in Hong Kong, east of Waglan Island. The fishermen were pulled from the water, apparently by the crew of Vestas. Nine fishermen were rescued and one died of his injuries.

Vestas skipper Charlie Enright was not onboard, handing the reigns over to his longtime sailing partner Mark Towill while he had some pressing issues ashore. 

Vestas was reaching along at about 20 knots at about 2 a.m. local time, in a strong second place for the leg. Details are unknown and will likely remain so as an investigation is conducted. Vestas motored in to Hong Kong with the boat heeled to starboard apparently to keep the holed port bow out of the water.

Little is known and not much is forthcoming from VOR headquarters. In fact, while the online sailing community scoured the world’s servers for information, the VOR media team virtually ignored the calamity on air while it was happening.

While explaining the situation to my favorite newbie sailor (my wife Abby) I heard myself saying that flying into crowded waters at 20 knots at night is just not seamanlike. It’s not. If a vessel is dimly or not lighted, there’s not much time to react at 20 knots. Radar cannot easily pick up some low-slung vessels and AIS is not universally used. When you think about it, for the unsuspecting fisherman even trying to avoid a Volvo 65 flying at 20 knots isn’t at all easy. Without a doubt, these Volvo crews are the world’s greatest offshore sailors. But they can’t be expected to be the most seamanlike when racing into crowded waters at night on a boat capable of those speeds and so much at stake.

One thing about our sport is that no matter how risky we make it, we’re generally only endangering ourselves. The fact that a mariner not competing in the sport died is simply tragic. I’m sure the crews of all the boats, and especially Vestas, are devastated.

Ironically, it was Vestas Wind (crewed by a completely different team) that ran up on the rocks Cargados Carajos Shoals near Mauritius in the last Volvo Race.

I’ll spend way too much time trying to figure out what went on out there, and present it here when significant new confirmed information becomes available.

The rest of the boats finished in this order: Scallywag, Dong Feng, Akzonobel, Mapfre, Team Brunel and Turn the Tide on Plastic.




Maybe Legos are OK After All

Maybe Legos are OK After All

I have a very mixed relationship with Legos. Like a lot of parents, the hours of entertainment for my boys (and my peace) are just about worth the absolutely ridiculous prices I pay for plastic games that clip together. They foster focus, a sense of accomplishment and true excitement for Ian (9) and Gabe (4). I even feel a certain amount of pleasure when I’m called in to help on a difficult part.

But when that final piece is snapped on, the trouble begins. The first trouble is the Sanctity of the Lego. For a time, which can vary from an hour to a month, The Toy is not to be disrupted. The box must also not be thrown into recycling. A shrine is set up somewhere in the house where It cannot be disturbed. But disturbed It will be, usually by Gabe or one of his friends. And by disturbed, unsnapped. At that point, hopefully before Ian sees the damage, I can piece it back together usually when I have something else pressing in “real life.” If I can’t fix it, when Ian finds the damage the ensuing howl will be heard all the way to Oregon.

But that’s not the worst of it. The worst of it is that ultimately when interest is lost in The Toy (usually when it’s superceded by another Lego puzzle) it goes into The Bins. The Bins are boxes of Lego pieces from 20+ puzzles over the years. Every time the boys want to play Legos and there are no new puzzles to tackle, the bins’ contents are deposited on a bed sheet on the floor. And, no matter what, Lego pieces escape from that sheet and become landmines for anyone walking around in my house, or chokable objects for visiting babies.

Either inside the bins or lurking in every nook and cranny of furniture or floor, these thousands of pieces take up permanent residence in my small house. Being a sailor, I’m not fond of clutter. So I go a little crazy.

No doubt my boys will require therapy as they explain “Dad went crazy just ’cause he found a little Lego piece in his underwear. He yelled and it wasn’t even my fault. It was my brother’s!”

Ah, but here is a completely worthwhile Lego project, done by adults and seen by thousands. And if you doubt they can make a working canting keel, you haven’t seen much of Legos lately. I’m sure kids (and grownups) will love it, but all I’ll be thinking about is how miserable it would be to have the clean up the 100,000 pieces!

Now, this gives me an idea. Show Ian these pictures and challenge him to make a miniature two-meter long Volvo 65! It would give me weeks of peace! Oh wait, there’s no room for the shrine. Oh well.


ALICANTE, March 8 – A model boat of Team SCA, made entirely of 100,000 LEGO® pieces, will be exhibited in the Volvo Ocean Race museum from today.

The launch of the Volvo Ocean 65 replica boat, which safely delivered the all-female crew of Team SCA around the world in the 2014-15 race, coincides with International Women’s Day.

The model was donated by SCA, the Swedish global hygiene company, which sponsored skipper Sam Davies’s crew in the nine-month marathon race.

It was displayed at each of the 11 ports that hosted the 12th edition before being transported to its new permanent home in the Alicante-based Volvo Ocean Race museum.


“The boat is in the best place possible. After a long journey around the world, it has returned home,” said Anders Gaasedal, one of the men who constructed it.

October 21, 2014. A 1:10 scale replica of Team SCA's VO65, built of Lego bricks.
October 21, 2014. A 1:10 scale replica of Team SCA’s VO65, built of Lego bricks.

The Dane, who works for LEGO®, embarked in 2013 on the challenge of making the Volvo Ocean 65 replica together with his Swedish friend Johan Sahlström, an engineer for Volvo Trucks. They achieved their target after 1,200 hours of work.

“At the start of the regatta, we dreamed of bringing the boat back to Alicante. This has been an adventure for us and for Team SCA. It’s marvellous that the boat is being exhibited in the museum. The more people who can enjoy it the better,” added Sahlström.

What started as a diverting challenge for two friends, developed into a complete engineering and logistic project, replicating in miniature the dimensions of the boat (2.32 metres in length, 3.03 metres mast height, 0.56 metres width of the hull). It has a functioning, scaled-down keel (+/- 40 degrees with five degrees of tilt from its axis).

“Everything works, the pieces are not stuck together. The most difficult thing was making everything curve using pieces that are basically rectangular. This is most beautiful model that I have ever made,” said Sahlström.

“Our boat from the distance looks like a real model, you can´t see it´s made of LEGO® bricks, and then, when you come closer, it´s a great surprise.

Anders Gaasedal and Johan Sahlström show off their 2-meter Lego model of the SCA Volvo 65.
Anders Gaasedal and Johan Sahlström show off their 2-meter Lego model of the SCA Volvo 65.

Everything has curves, it´s been built in 3D, the bricks have been put together from the top, the side and the bottom, and all is shiny. Children always build from the bottom to the top.”

The Volvo Ocean Race museum, which offers free entrance, welcomed more than 50,000 visitors in 2015 and is the only one in the world dedicated to almost 43 years of history of the round-the-world race.

Alicante, headquarters of the Volvo Ocean Race organisation since 2010, was the departure port in the last three editions of the race and will be so again in the next event starting in 2017.

SCA has a long record supporting women’s causes around the world and Team SCA’s entry in the last Volvo Ocean Race underlined their commitment to the issue of female empowerment.