Auckland to Fiji Race: Man overboard incident reduces fleet to four

Outrageous Fortune - Start Auckland Suva Race June 1, 2013

The racing fleet in the Auckland to Fiji race is down to just four boats with withdrawal mid-afternoon of Outrageous Fortune.

The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron website reported that 'at 1447hrs Outrageous Fortune contacted Maritime Radio to advise they were retiring from the race following an incident. We understand from our correspondence with Maritime Radio that everyone is safe, but that it is quicker and safer for the boat to return home. We will report more as soon as we are able.'

Maritime New Zealand confirmed to Sail-World this morning that a crewman had been lost overboard, and retrieved prompting the return to New Zealand. One other crew member was believed to have suffered a cut to the neck in the incident. The crew member is believed to have been in the water for 10 minutes.

Maritime NZ would not disclose further details of the incident, saying that was the responsibility of the race organisers.

Weather conditions in the area gave been testing with leader of the racing fleet the 60ft trimaran TeamVodafoneRacing reporting that she was down to a triple reefed mainsail, and very small jib. The trimaran which is capable of speeds in excess of 35kts was slowed to just 5kts, and for several phases of the race has been sailing more slowly than the lead monohull V5.

The Beneteau First 45 is expected to encounter increasing winds as she heads back to New Zealand.

Meanwhile the first yacht to withdraw, the Marten 55 Equilibrium is back in Opua having her alternator repaired. She was initially reported as intending to rejoin the fleet, however that has yet to be confirmed by race organisers.

Six yachts started the race at noon on Saturday, one of the smallest trans-oceanic race fleets to leave New Zealand. Ahead of them is one entry in the Cruising Division which left on Wednesday.

At the head of the fleet, Simon Hull's ORMA 60 trimaran continues to lead, but only making 9.3kts with 260nm to the finish at Musket Cove.

First monohull is David Nathan's V5, sailing at 12.9kts and with 430nm to the finish.

According to the projections from Predictwind, the breeze is expected to moderate all the way into Fiji, with TeamVodafoneSailing finishing late in the afternoon on Wednesday, with V5 finishing mid-morning on Thursday.

The optimum courses to Musket Cove are almost direct with little influence from the usual South East Trades.

The two other yachts in the race, Wild Card and Squealer are 645nm and 683nm respectively from the finish as at 2300hrs on June 4, 2013.