Video footage of the moment Volvo Ocean Race yacht Vestas Wind struck a reef off the island of Mauritius has been shared on Youtube. If you've ever wondered what it might sound or look like to hit a rock at 19 knots in the dark, then the wait is over. The video shows the entire wreck and rescue with some very frank comments by the boat's skipper, Chris Nicholson at the very end. Warning: bad language – amazing footage!
The Volvo 65, Team Vestas Wind was sailing in a northerly direction at around 19 knots when the keel struck the reef known as the Cargados Carajos Shoals in the Indian Ocean on Saturday night, November 29. None of the crew were injured and all have now been safely returned to Mauritius. There has been no decision on whether salvage of the vessel will be possible, or whether Team Vestas Wind will be able to continue in the race after the next stop over in Abu Dhabi.
The boat was in fifth place out of seven in the race. Ian Walker, skipper of lead boat at the time, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, said: “When we went past there we actually said how easy it would be to hit it at night. Fortunately we went through there in the daylight. It is very difficult to see it with the electronic charts, and of course at night you wouldn’t see it at all.”
Chris Nicholson, the Australian skipper of Team Vestas Wind stated: "It’s clear that human error is responsible for the shipwreck, there’s no avoiding that.
"As skipper you end up with ultimate responsibility, but below that you have different sections where different people take control of those areas. One of these areas was the breakdown that let this happen. As the skipper you cannot be 100 per cent on top of every role – you have to trust the individuals [in the team]. It's no different to any business or any other team, you have to place that trust in the individuals to do their role."
Navigator, Wouter Verbraak, posted on Facebook: "I am totally devastated and still in shock as the gravity of our grounding is slowly sinking in. I made a big mistake. 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.
"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."
Volvo Ocean 65: the world’s toughest one-design.