The Volvo Ocean Race has commissioned an independent report into the safety of ocean racing at night after a fatal crash during the race in Hong Kong in January.

With the fleet racing into Hong Kong from Melbourne, Vestas 11th Hour Racing's vessel collided with a local fishing boat about 30 miles off shore at 1am local time on January 20.

A nearby commercial vessel rescued nine of the fishing crew, while a 10th died in hospital after being airlifted from the water.

None of the Vestas crew was injured, but their vessel sustained damage and had to be shipped to Auckland for repairs which meant they could not compete in legs five and six of the race.


Now, an independent report team comprised of Rear Admiral Chris Oxenbould, ex-deputy chief of the Australian Nay, navigational expert Stan Honey and former chairman of the US Sailing Safety at sea Committee Chuck Hawley will look at what steps can be taken to mitigate risk going forward.

Volvo Ocean Race director Phil Lawrence said in a statement that there had been a lot of reaction to the incident, but it would take time to make a responsible assessment of what could be done to minimise future risks.

"Our sailors, as qualified professionals, understand their responsibilities under the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, Racing Rules of Sailing and the Rules of the Volvo Ocean Race," Lawrence said.

"As race organisers, we will continue to evaluate safety as we race over the coming months and take the appropriate steps to minimise risk."

The findings of the report were expected to be made available to the Volvo Ocean Race by June.

Initially following the accident, DongFeng Race Team could have been diverted to the scene to help, however Vestas communicated there were enough local vessels on the scene and DongFeng were released to the finish line.

Team AkzoNobel approached the scene a couple of hours later and remained in the area on stand-by as race organisers believed the Vestas crew might benefit from the emotional support of a fellow crew after dealing with the situation for two hours.

AkzoNobel were not needed and were soon also released to finish the leg when Vestas began to sail into Hong Kong after the completion of the rescue.


There has been little more information about the incident aside for the race's initial report of what had happened, as they had been dealing with authorities from both Hong Kong and China.

However, both investigations were set to be closed with no further action taken, Lawrence said.

The Vestas crew will rejoin the fleet this week, getting back on the water for Saturday's in-port race.