Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Tributes to lost Volvo Ocean Race yachtsman John Fisher

John Fisher Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race S.L.U.
Image caption John Fisher, 47, from Southampton, went overboard 1,400 miles west of Cape Horn

Tributes have been paid to a sailor presumed lost at sea after he was knocked overboard during a round-the-world race in the Southern Ocean.

John Fisher, 47, from Southampton, fell from Team Sun Hung Kai's Scallywag yacht on Monday.

Dee Caffari, skipper of rival yacht Turn the Tide on Plastic, said "many tears" had been shed for "a gifted sailor who was doing what he loved".

The Scallywag crew is currently sailing to Chile, the nearest land.

The remaining six yachts are heading towards Cape Horn and will then sail to Itajaí in Brazil to complete leg seven of the race.

Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race S.L.U.
Image caption John Fisher was taking part in the 45,000-nautical mile Volvo Ocean Race for the first time

According to a timeline of events released by the team, Mr Fisher was hit by the mainsheet system and knocked overboard.

The Scallywag crew believe he was already unconscious from the blow before hitting the water.

The team carried out an exhaustive search for several hours 1,400 nautical miles west of Cape Horn but were unable to find their teammate.

Navigator Simon Fisher onboard Vestas 11th Hour Racing said after the "devastating news we are racing towards Cape Horn with heavy hearts".

Kyle Langford, trimmer onboard Brunel, said: "The race is secondary at this point."

"It's devastating. Obviously morale is down and everybody is really feeling for his friends and family and all the team mates.

"I can't imagine the pain that they are all going through."

Image copyright Volvo Ocean Race S.L.U.
Image caption The team is sailing to Chile, the nearest land

Dutch ocean racing team AkzoNobel said: "Our thoughts go out to Fish, his family, his friends and his team mates.

"We feel devastated for the Scallywag sailors, we wish them strength and a safe journey onward to shore."

Chinese team, Dongfeng, held a silent tribute onboard to John Fisher following the news.

In a previous statement, the Volvo Ocean Race organisation said: "Given the cold water temperature and the extreme sea state, along with the time that has now passed since he went overboard, we must now presume that John has been lost at sea."

The race is expected to last until late June 2018, with the yachts facing 45,000 miles of dangerous seas and unpredictable weather conditions.

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