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Team Vestas Wind grounded, to be abandoned

Published on November 29th, 2014

The seven boat Volvo Ocean Race fleet now appears to have lost one of its entrants.

On the second leg from from Cape Town, SA to Abu Dhabi, UAE, Team Vestas Wind informed Race Control at 1510 UTC (Nov. 29, 2014; Day 11) that their boat was grounded on the Cargados Carajos Shoals, Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean. Fortunately, no one has been injured.

As of 2030 UTC, Team Alvimedica had arrived at the site, and was in radio contact with Vestas Wind to assist. There is also contact established with a coastguard station on Isle de Sud, approximately 1.5 km from the boat, which has a RIB available. The plan is for this vessel to assist in abandoning the boat as soon as possible after daylight.

Both rudders have been reported broken by the Vestas Wind crew. The team has also reported water ingress in the stern compartment. The Volvo Ocean 65 has watertight bulkheads in the bow and the stern. The remaining part of the boat is intact including the rig.

As of 2145 UTC, Vestas Wind reported that they had now deployed two life rafts as the stern of the boat was being beaten on rocks of the reef. The bow is pointing out to sea.

The team added that they were keeping the life rafts some 15 metres from the boat, which the crew could reach if necessary. There were no plans to do this yet but the life rafts had been deployed now as they may not be able to do so later.

The current plan remains to abandon the boat at daylight with the assistance of the coastguard at Íle du Sud as well as Alvimedica. Navigator Will Oxley on Alvimedica shares this update from on board:

“We are in contact with Vestas every 30 minutes on VHF radio whilst we wait for dawn at which time the local coast guard should be able to help effect a rescue. Meanwhile I am sure it is great for them to know we are standing by and ready to intersect their life rafts when they reach deep enough water for us to safely navigate in should they abandon at night.

“Our sails are down and we are motoring back and forth on the lagoon side of the reef remaining as close as possible to the crew of Vestas Wind while they require assistance. We cannot get closer than about 1.8 miles to them because they are hard on the reef but in the event they abandon to the rafts we may be able to help with recovery. We may also be required to help after rescue but we await advice on this.

“For all practical purposes we are no longer racing towards Abu Dhabi for now, but we have not suspended racing. However, in accordance with the laws of the sea, and Racing Rules of Sailing Fundamental Rule 1.1 we are standing by Vestas ‘to give all possible help to any person or vessel in danger.’

“The guys on Vestas are our mates and many of us have sailed 1000’s of miles with them. We will remain with them as long as it is possible we may be able to help.”

At 0045 UTC (Nov. 30), Vestas Wind reported to Race Management that all nine crew have safely abandoned the boat. The crew awaits daylight on a dry section of the reef, where the life rafts are anchored.

At 0300 UTC, Race Control confirmed that the Vestas Wind crew has now been rescued and will stay on the Íle du Sud, part of Cargados Carajos Shoals, which is also known as St. Brandon and situated some 430 kilometres to the north-east of Mauritius. There is a house and some facilities. All the crew is safe and nobody is injured.

Vestas Wind is making plans with Volvo Ocean Race on how to transport the crew off the island as well as how to salvage the boat.

Alvimedica has now been released and will continue racing towards Abu Dhabi.

Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race, said: “I’m extremely relieved that every one of the nine crew members now are safe and that nobody is injured. That has always been our first priority since we first learned about the grounding.

“At the same time, I’m deeply saddened that this happened to Team Vestas Wind and Chris Nicholson and his team. It’s devastating for the team, for the race and for everyone involved. I really feel for Chris and the team right now and we will continue to support them all the way going forward.”

Leg 2 Position Report (as of 21:40 UTC)
1. Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, Ian Walker (GBR), 2683.5 nm Distance to Finish
2. MAPFRE, Iker Martinez (ESP), 4.3 nm Distance to Lead
3. Team Brunel, Bouwe Bekking (NED), 9.8 nm DTL
4. Dongfeng Race Team, Charles Caudrelier (FRA), 14.1 nm DTL
5. Team SCA, Sam Davies (GBR), 150.7 DTL
6. Team Alvimedica, Charlie Enright (USA), 152.8 nm DTL
7. Team Vestas Wind, Chris Nicholson (AUS), 154.2 nm DTL

Race websiteTrackingWatch logVideos

Background: The 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race began in Alicante, Spain on Oct. 11 with the final finish on June 27 in Gothenburg, Sweden. Racing the new one design Volvo Ocean 65, seven teams will be scoring points in 9 offshore legs to determine the overall Volvo Ocean Race winner. Additionally, the teams will compete in 10 In-Port races at each stopover for a separate competition – the Volvo Ocean Race In-Port Series. The second offshore leg from Cape Town, SA to Abu Dhabi, UAE is 6,125 nm, started Nov. 19 with an ETA of Dec. 9-16.

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