Wouter Verbraak: How Team Vestas Wind went aground during the Volvo Ocean Race
Published on December 5th, 2014
Wouter Verbraak has competed in the Volvo Ocean Race twice, the America’s Cup, the 2011 Barcelona World Race and all world major regattas. He is well-respected in the navigation community, but when Team Vesta Wind ran into the Cargados Carajos Shoals during the second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race, he was their navigator.
We all make mistakes, though few get well known, certainly not to the degree that this has. Following the incident on Nov. 29, the crew has now been rescued and the photos and video revealed. Here Wouter comments on the incident.
We finally have means of communications again, so a message is highly over due….
I am totally devastated and still in shock as the gravity of our grounding is slowly sinking in now that we are safely in Mauritius with finally some time to reflect on what happened.
We are very lucky that nobody was hurt, and a lot of that is credit to our team work in the seconds, minutes and hours after the crash.
I made a big mistake, but then we didn’t make any others even though there were many difficult decision to be made and the situation was very challenging and grave indeed.
Once I can get power to the boats laptops (if they survived) I can look further into how we didn’t see the reef on the electronic charts. I did check the area on the electronic chart before putting my head down for a rest after a very long day negotiating the tropical storm and what I saw was depths of 42 and 80m indicated. There is a very good article posted on http://blog.geogarage.com/2014/12/questions-asked-about-volvo-ocean-race.html.
I can assure you that before every leg we diligently look at our route before we leave and I use both Google Earth, paper charts and other tools. However, our planned route changed just before we left, and with the focus on the start and the tricky conditions, I erroneously thought I would have enough information with me to look at the changes in our route as we went along. I was wrong. I am not trying to make any excuses – just trying to offer up some form of explanation and answer to some of your questions.
There are a number of lessons to be learned from this, which we hope will be able to relay in the time to come.
I am immensely grateful for all the support that we as a team, my family and myself have received from our wonderful friends, colleagues, family, Vestas, Powerhouse and Volvo. More over we are heavily in debt to the thorough support of Alvimedica throughout the first night, as well as the local fisherman and the coastguard of Ile du Sud in the atol. So I want to thank everybody so very much. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I am forever in your debt.