Skipper of presumed dead yachtsman John Fisher ‘feels responsible’

John Fisher, 47, from Southampton, went overboard 1,400 miles west of Cape Horn

The skipper of a round-the-world race yacht has said he feels responsible for the presumed death of a sailor from Southampton who fell overboard.

John Fisher, 47, fell from Team Sun Hung Kai’s Scallywag yacht in the Southern Ocean on 26 March.
David Witt spoke about the incident for the first time during a Volvo Ocean Race press conference on Friday.

He said: “To say I feel responsible is an understatement, and that’s something I shall live with the rest of my life.”

Mr Fisher had been competing in the 45,000-nautical mile race for the first time but went overboard 1,400 miles west of Cape Horn, Chile.

David Witt was speaking at a Volvo Ocean Race press conference in Brazil on Friday – image; Volvo Ocean Race

According to a timeline of events released by the team, he was hit by the mainsheet system and knocked overboard.

The Scallywag crew believe he was already unconscious from the blow before hitting the water.
The team carried out an exhaustive search for several hours, 1,400 nautical miles west of Cape Horn, but were unable to find him.

Australian Mr Witt, speaking ahead Sunday’s eighth leg to Newport, Rhode Island, said of the incident: “A whole lot of things had to sort of coincide and go wrong at the same time.”

He added that he had “personally changed from the tragedy”.

“They say in Australia men don’t cry but I broke that rule and if he was standing there beside me he would tell me to harden up, don’t be soft and get on with it,” he said.

“That’s what we’ll do on Sunday.”

The team is sailing to Chile, the nearest land

In a previous statement, the Volvo Ocean Race organisation said: “Given the cold water temperature and the extreme sea state, along with the time that has now passed since he went overboard, we must now presume that John has been lost at sea.”

The race is expected to last until late June 2018.

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