Auckland to Fiji Race: Injury confirmed assisting MOB crew recovery

Outrageous Fortune pictured before the start of the Auckland Suva race.

Almost 18 hours after the incident, race organisers have this morning confirmed that a crew member was lost overboard from one of the competitors in the 2013 Auckland to Fiji Race.

Rough conditions have affected all competitors in the race, a side effect from two nearby severe weather systems. The confused seas being more of an issue than the winds.

In a statement issued this morning more detail was added to the initial report which only confirmed that one boat, Outrageous Fortune, was returning to New Zealand. Outrageous Fortune owned by Quintin Fowler was a competitor in this year's Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.

The statement issued by race organisers reads:

At 1542hrs yesterday Maritime Radio contacted the RNZYS to advise that Outrageous had withdrawn from the race following an incident onboard. We understand that one crew member had fallen overboard, and that another was injured while rescuing him, and that the first crew member was in the water for 7-10 minutes before he was retrieved.

Following this initial communication, Outrageous Fortune advised that both crew members are safe and well, but that it was prudent for them to return to New Zealand as quickly as possible. Overnight, the boat told Maritime Radio that both crew members were doing well.

The boat will continue to be tracked on Yellowbrick, until it arrives safely in port, and is being closely monitored by Maritime Radio. At 0830hrs they are located approximately 300nm north of Auckland, and doing 5.9 knots of boatspeed.

The 10.5m Tauranga entry Squealer, who was in the same area as Outrageous Fortune for most of yesterday, has reported difficult conditions on the racecourse:

'It has been a windy, wet 48 hours on board,' reports a crew member. 'Nothing is dry. The 30 knot Northerly turned NorthWest after the front yesterday and has stayed 25 knots +. We have been sailing with the #3 and no main, not because of the wind, but the sea state which is incredibly confused. Bone jarring drops off cross seas that make the water from the keel forward suddenly disappear!'

'Life onboard is wet and wet and wet. Sail and sleep is the game.'

Squealer is heading directly for Musket Cove, about 60nm behind Wild Card, which is 220nm behind V5. TeamVodafone is 175nm from Fiji, doing 17.6 knots of boatspeed.

They say the seastate has also slowed them down, and crew have spent time fixing two breakages - a broken window, and an outhaul strop. They weren't relishing the thought of another day on the wind, and did five sail changes yesterday afternoon and evening. Today they are back up to 15-25knots under solent and one reef, and contemplating a gybe to come later in the day.

Equilibrium is currently in Opua for repairs and hoping for a quick turnaround to enable the crew and supporters to get their holiday in Fiji.

Earlier projections had racing fleet leader, TeamVodafoneSailing finishing early evening on Wednesday and the first monohull in the race fleet, V5, due to finish around 9.00am on Thursday morning. Currently TeamVodafoneSailing is sailing at 19kts with 140nm to sail to the finish, with V% sailing at 15kts and with 290nm to finish as of 1000hrs on June 5, 2013.

The race is supported by Manson Anchors, PredictWind.com, and TNL GAC Pindar.