Team Vestas Volvo Ocean Race –
Nine sailors were forced to abandon their vessel and wade to safety through shark-infested waters after they hit a reef during a round-the-world race.
The order to abandon ship came in shallow waters, but at 4am local time and in a part of the Indian Ocean notorious for being well populated by sharks.
// At 1510 UTC, Team Vestas Wind, a 65-foot sailing yacht racing in the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) grounded on the Cargados Carajos Shoals, Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean and has been abandoned according to race organizers.
A press release by the Volvo Ocean Race notes two life rafts have been deployed while the stern “was being beaten on rocks of the reef.”
The bow is pointing out to sea, however both rudders are broken. The mast remains upright and the bow of the vessel remains above the water, however, “the current plan remains to abandon the boat at daylight with the assistance of the coastguard at Íle du Sud as well as Team Alvimedica,” according to race organizers.
Charles Caudrelier, skipper of Team Dongfeng notes in comment,
“We are offshore in the middle of nowhere, and on the chart, if you don’t go on the maximum zoom you can’t see anything.”
The Volvo Ocean Race skippers are relying on electronic charts to make their way around the world and in this case, the limitations of such charts appear to have let them down.
“When I was looking at the navigation a few days ago, checking these things, it took a long time for me to find them,” adds Caudrelier.
His team narrowly missed the rocks thanks to a last-minute gybe.
Team Alvimedica is anchored on site and is awaiting daylight before providing more direct assistance. The situation is, however stable and there have been no injuries.
VOR CEO Knut Frostad commented on the situation,
“It’s complicated – but everything’s stable, and under control.
“I think the challenge with the current situation is that, first of all, it’s in a very remote part of the planet, far away from ships, ports and services,” he adds.
“The closest large civilisation is in Mauritius which is more than 200 nm from this location.”