SAN FRANCISCO (#1052) – Tonight our thoughts and prayers are with our many friends and the others affected by the separate but coincidental tragedies today in The Hague (NED) and Annapolis, Maryland (USA). This week in the Hague the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race is wrapping up, and Annapolis, Maryland (USA) is one of the main sailing centers in the USA if not the world.
So far details on the loss of life in The Hague are scarce. The AFP is reporting via the Sport 24 website that, "There was a collision between two spectator boats out watching a sailing exhibition connected with the Volvo Ocean Race."
This evening VOR media issued a statement saying that the collision happened in the waters "adjacent to the Race Village" but that "No Volvo Ocean Race or team personnel were involved in the collision."
The VOR statement also said, "Because of the accident, the City decided to close the Race Village early on Thursday night and will make appropriate changes to programming for Friday."
The AFP report went on to say that, "The NOS [Netherlands state] public broadcaster said the rigid-hulled inflatables known as RIB boats [that collided] were being used as tour boats to go out and watch the remaining Volvo Race action."
The VOR media release included a statement from The Hague's mayor which clarified the boats involved: "This evening a terrible accident took place in the Scheveningen harbour. Two boats collided. It concerns a steel motorboat and a so called RIB. On the RIB were eight people: seven guests and the driver. On the motorboat were three people."
Sailing Illustrated is looking into the matter and will report further in due course. So far, one hears that that the steel motorboat suddenly went into reverse to avoid a collision with a yacht sailing in an exhibition race of some sort, and backed over the RIB with eight persons aboard, killing one and seriously injuring at least two others. Even though the eleven offshore legs of the VOR ended Sunday, promotional events continue this week with a final In-Port race scheduled for Saturday June 30th, the impact of which will be only to break the tie between the overall 6th and 7th place teams, Sun Hung Kai/Scallywag and Turn the Tide on Plastic, respectively.
The beautiful and historic Chesapeake Bay town of Annapolis, MD was the scene this afternoon of a horrific shooting in the newsroom of the main newspaper, the Capital Gazette. Five people were killed and several others were "gravely injured." This tragedy is not, as far as we know, directly connected in any way with our beloved sport.
However, Annapolis is not only the state capitol of Maryland and home of the US Naval Academy, but one of the major sailing centers in the USA if not the world. Moreover, the Capital Gazette has been one of the few newspapers in the USA that still gives our sport great coverage.
Bill Wagner has been an award-winning reporter for The Capital newspapers for more than two decades covering sports, including sailing. Read his latest sailing story, filed on June 23, 2018, here. Thankfully, we hear tonight that Mr Wagner is safe and sound.