30 November 2014: The crew of Team Vestas Wind, one of the seven competing boats in the Volvo Ocean Race, have been safely rescued at first light this morning after the boat became grounded on a reef in the Indian Ocean, forcing them to abandon ship.
All nine members of the team are uninjured following the accident which unfolded from 15:10 UTC on Saturday 29 November when their Volvo Ocean 65 hit the reef in Cargados Carajos Shoals, Mauritius.
The boat’s stern was badly beaten on the rocks of the reef and began taking on water and both rudders were broken, resulting in the crew taking the decision to deploy the life rafts and abandon the boat as soon as possible.
The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Reunion Island was immediately alerted to the problem and contact was established with a coastguard station on the Isle of Sud approximately 1.5 kilometres from the vessel, with an available RIB to assist the safe rescue of the crew
In addition, rival boat Team Alvimedica veered off to course to come to the aid of Team Vestas Wind if required and was in radio contact with the crew.
Finally, around midnight, the team led by skipper Chris Nicholson abandoned the boat and then waded, knee-deep through the sea to a dry spot on the reef from where they could be rescued by a coastguard RIB at daybreak at around 02:30 UTC.
They were transported to the tiny islet of Íle du Sud, part of Cargados Carajos Shoals, which is also known as St. Brandon and situated some 430 kilometres to the north-east of Mauritius.
Race Control had maintained hourly contact with Team Vestas Wind throughout the ordeal and Knut Frostad, Volvo Ocean Race CEO, said: “I’m extremely relieved that every one of the nine crew members now are safe and that nobody is injured, That has always been our first priority since we first learned about the grounding.
“At the same time, I’m deeply saddened that this happened to Team Vestas Wind and Chris Nicholson and his team. It’s devastating for the team, for the race and for everyone involved.”
Inmarsat is official Satellite Communications Partner for the Volvo Ocean Race and each boat is fitted with its flagship maritime services, including Inmarsat C which beams back the boats’ GPS locations to race HQ every 10 seconds, so the alarm can be raised if they stop or veer off course.
With over 35 years of delivering the life-saving Global Maritime Distress Service (GMDSS), Inmarsat is trusted to help keep each team safe as they compete in the race.
“It is a relief that all the crew are safe but a reminder of how important our safety service contribution is to the crew, their families and the Race,” said Chris McLaughlin, Inmarsat Senior Vice President Marketing and External Affairs.
Volvo Ocean Race: www.inmarsat.com/vor