Vestas misses start of Volvo leg six

Volvo Ocean Race (AP)
Volvo Ocean Race (AP)

Hong Kong - The round-the-world Volvo Ocean Race will resume without Vestas 11th Hour Racing when the sixth leg from Hong Kong to Auckland begins on Wednesday. 

The American-Danish entry is being transported to New Zealand for repairs after a collision with a fishing boat in waters just outside Hong Kong last month that left one fisherman dead. 

"We have all offered our sincere condolences to all those affected by the incident," Vestas 11th Hour Racing co-founder Mark Towill said on the eve of the 10 400km to Auckland. 

"Now with a seriously damaged boat and a new set of challenges to surmount, we have had to map out the necessary steps that will enable our team to get back in the race." 

Vestas collided with a Chinese fishing boat in the early hours of January 20 about 30 nautical miles from the Victoria Harbour finishing line in Hong Kong. 

Crew helped with the search and rescue effort that saw one Chinese fisherman airlifted to a local hospital where he later died. Nine other fishermen were rescued by a commercial vessel. 

The incident cast a pall over the famous race's first stopover in Hong Kong, with the leg from Melbourne having being won by the city's first-ever Volvo Ocean Race entrant - Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag, skippered by David Witt. 

Spain's Mapfre, with Xabier Fernandez at the helm, lead the overall standings as the fleet sets out for the trip to Auckland. 

Mapfre are four points in front of the China-backed Dongfeng Race Team, skippered by Frenchman Charles Caudrelier. 

Vestas were lying third of the seven-boat fleet contesting the 13th edition of the race. 

Yachts and crews have had 18 days of rest and in-port racing both in Hong Kong and in the nearby southern Chinese city of Guangzhou. 

The race will end in Gothenberg in June after 11 legs and 83 150km of ocean racing. 

"We hope to see Vestas back soon," said Mapfre's Fernandez. "Sailing in front of shipping is the most dangerous thing we face and [the collision] was very sad. It could have happened to anyone. 

"The big challenge ahead is 20-plus days of sailing again and a little bit of everything. But the boat is great shape, we're rested and we're strong."

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