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British yachtsman John Fisher 'presumed lost at sea' after falling overboard during Volvo Ocean Race

John Fisher fell from the yacht whilst taking part in a round-the-world race. Credit: Volvo Ocean Race via AP

A British yachtsman is "presumed lost at sea" after falling overboard in a round-the-world race in the Atlantic Ocean, organisers have said.

Sailor John Fisher, 47, from Southampton, fell from Team Sun Hung Kai's Scallywag yacht whilst taking part in the Volvo Ocean Race, 1,400 nautical miles west of Cape Horn at 13.42 GMT on Monday.

Race organisers said the search for the 47-year-old had been impaired by bad weather conditions and a lack of light, but that all other crew members had been reported safe.

The Scallywag team aboard the 65ft yacht conducted an exhaustive search for Mr Fisher, but were forced to turn downwind and head towards the South American coast for safety.

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In a statement, Richard Brisius, President of the Volvo Ocean Race said: "This morning I am extremely sad to inform you that one of our sailors, John Fisher, from Team Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag, is now presumed to have been lost at sea."

"This is heart-breaking for all of us. As sailors and race organisers losing a crew member at sea is a tragedy we don't ever want to contemplate. We are devastated and our thoughts are with John’s family, friends and teammates."

Organisers had immediately coordinated with the Scallywag team, as well as the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre who diverted a ship towards the scene.

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Mr Fisher, who lived in Adelaide but competed for Great Britain, was on watch and wearing appropriate survival gear when he fell overboard the vessel.

The conditions in the area at the time were a strong 35-knot westerly wind and the water temperature was 9C.

The teams were on leg seven from Auckland, New Zealand, to Iajai, Brazil, in the 45,000 nautical mile race when Mr Fisher went missing.