A British yachtsman who fell overboard Monday while competing in the Volvo Ocean Race is presumed to be lost at sea, race officials say in a statement. John Fisher, 47, was competing in the 45,000-nautical-mile race around the world, which started Oct. 22 in Spain and will end in the Netherlands in June, for the first time. Fisher fell overboard 1,400 miles west of Cape Horn, Chile; the team aboard the 65-foot Sun Hung Kai / Scallywag searched for several hours and could not locate him, USA Today reports. The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre diverted a ship to help with the search but it was more than a day away from the scene when officials released their statement.
"This is heartbreaking for all of us," says the race president in the statement. "As sailors and race organizers 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." The details of Fisher's accident were not clear, but NBC News notes there were high winds and large waves when he went overboard. "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 president says.