An Adelaide-based British sailor who is presumed to be lost at sea after being swept overboard in a round-the-world race could have taken a bathtub and a handkerchief and still out-sailed anyone, his club says.
John Fisher, a crew member of the Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag yacht team, is thought to have perished in extreme conditions after going overboard on Monday around 1400 nautical miles west of Cape Horn, Volvo Ocean Race President Richard Brisius says.
Despite conducting an exhaustive search in challenging conditions, teammates have been forced to turn towards land without him.
"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," Brisius said.
Fisher, 47, joined Adelaide's Christies Sailing Club about 10 years ago and the club has released an emotional statement saying his passion for racing was insatiable.
"It soon became evident that this man could sail a bathtub with a handkerchief as a sail and could still out-sail anyone," the club's statement said.
"Although John was one of the top sailors in the world, he was not an elitist, he chose our club to sail at as it fitted with his passions - family, sailing, and lifelong friendships."
The club said members will miss Fisher's infectious personality, his love and passion for the sport and his expertise.
It described the Volvo Ocean Race as an "exhaustive and personally confronting challenge" but if anyone could get into a crew "John was the one".
"He was a true friend. He has enriched our club and we are blessed to have shared in his life," it said.
Brisius said the Sun Hung Kai team remained in a "challenging position" as weather continued to deteriorate throughout the day, and crew members had been left "emotionally and physically drained" by their friend's loss.
"Our sole focus now is to provide all the support and assistance that we can to the team," he added.