THE chances of finding a yachtsman who fell overboard during a round-the-world race are ‘diminishing’ according to race organisers.
Crewman John Fisher, who previously lived in Southampton, fell from Team Sun Hung Kai’s Scallywag yacht 1,400 nautical miles west of Cape Horn at 1.42pm on Monday.
Volvo Ocean Race organisers said a search was under way for the 47-year-old but acknowledged the severity of the forecast and lack of light meant hopes of a rescue were slim.
They said the Scallywag team aboard the 65ft yacht conducted an exhaustive search for Mr Fisher but were forced to turn downwind and head towards the nearest safe landfall on the South American coast.
In a statement, the race organisers said: ‘The weather in the area is forecast to deteriorate significantly in the coming hours.
‘SHK/Scallywag has thus made the difficult decision to turn downwind and head towards the South American coast, the nearest safe landfall, approximately 1,200 nautical miles away.’
The Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre requested one ship divert to the scene and is continuing to contact other ships that may be able to assist.
He was on watch and wearing appropriate survival gear when he went overboard, the organisers said.
Titchfield sailor Dee Caffari MBE – the first woman to sail single-handedly and non-stop around the world in both directions – has offered her condolences.
She tweeted: ‘All our thoughts and prayers are with our Sun Hung Kai Scallywag friends.’