Team Vestas Wind: Now What?

Published on December 7th, 2014

When Team Vestas Wind went aground on Cargados Carajos Shoals on November 29, their Volvo Ocean Race campaign sat high and dry in an area of the Indian Ocean with few services. Immediate help was on the island of Mauritius, 270 miles to the southwest. Over 500 miles away is Madagascar, with the southeast coast of the African continent another 700 miles further.

How they got in this predicament remains unclear, though human error is at the root. Their navigator Wouter Verbraak, who has twice competed in the Volvo Ocean Race and is well-respected in the navigation community, has offered limited explanation at this stage.

“I made a big mistake… 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.” Click here for full remarks.

What to do with the boat remains the next question, which race CEO Knut Frostad admits there are no easy answers at this stage.

“The future of the boat is uncertain at this moment. It is very clear that this boat is going to be very hard to repair. The team and its ownership is deciding exactly what they are going to do with the boat. This is being assessed every hour of every day. But it is very clear that the team will be unable to do the next leg.

“What is complex about this situation is the location of the incident. We are talking about a place in the middle of the Indian Ocean. There are very limited resources nearby. There are not a lot of specialists in rescue operations available there. It is a very complex situation to salvage and transport.

“What’s been most impressive for me is the effort the team demonstrated to save the environment. Coming into this pristine place in the middle of nature and realizing, the team did not want to do any more damage than necessary. The crew went to extreme lengths to bring everything that could potentially fall of the boat or leak into the ocean.

“The good thing in all of this is that the team is getting a support from the industry and the rest of the race stakeholders and the outside world like I have never seen before – quite amazing!” Click here for full remarks.

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