Nothing Beats A Good Accident

Published on October 1st, 2015

If you want mainstream media attention, it’s hard to beat a good accident. As a follow-up to the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race nightmare when Vestas Wind found an atoll in the Indian Ocean, now the Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race wants its turn.

By all accounts, this pay-to-play race is an immense undertaking. Event organizers train professional skippers and amateur crew to safely guide their fleet of twelve identical Tony Castro designed Clipper 70s along the 40,000 mile route.

Crews pay to participate, so getting the boats all the way around the world is critical to the business mode. This, apparently, is easier said than done. The winner of the first leg from London to Rio de Janeiro, LMAX Exchange, is now aground.

While in transit to be lifted for the application of new hull graphics, LMAX Exchange found a sandy outcrop 42 miles southwest of the race village at Marina da Gloria. The boat now rests fully on its side, with damage limited to the starboard rudder.

“The hull is intact and the boat is secured by its anchor,” reports race organizer Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. “We will remain on site to await the arrival of heavier equipment to get her off.”

The 5,968 mile leg began on August 30, with LMAX Exchange finishing on September 25. The incident occurred early on September 30 (0012 hrs local time / 0312 UTC) in light winds and good visibility with Skipper Olivier Cardin and three crew aboard.

Race officials believe the rudder can be repaired, and are currently working on a plan to refloat the boat. The next leg from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Cape Town, South Africa starts on October 7.

UPDATE: On October 2, it is reported that all approvals have now been received from the numerous local authorities and interested parties to re-float LMAX Exchange. This will happen at first light tomorrow, Saturday 3 October. A review of the incident has ruled out equipment error. The Race Office has also stated that skipper Olivier Cardin will continue to lead his team.

UPDATE: On October 3, the Clipper 70 Qingdao suffered a prop wrap with a line while assisting the operation. With her engine inoperable, the boat drifted and was washed onto the sand, but was subsequently re-floated. The decision was taken for the tug to prioritise taking Qingdao to the marina at Verolme, Angra Dos Reis, first, and return to re-float LMAX Exchange at first light local time on Sunday 4 October.

UPDATE: On October 4, LMAX Exchange was successfully re-floated at 1215 local time (1515 UTC) at Restinga da Marambaia. The vessel will now be towed to the marina at Verolme, Angra Dos Reis, to join Qingdao which was towed there last night, to be assessed, lifted and repaired as required. LMAX Exchange is expected to arrive in Verolme at 2100 UTC/1800 local time.

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