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Displaying items by tag: Volvo Ocean Race

#vor – 'This is an extreme sport. Extreme things happen', says Team Vestas Wind Navigator Wouter Verbraak in his first interview since November's Volvo Ocean Race shipwreck in the Indian Ocean. The images and subtitles are courtesy of NOS Sport.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#VOR - Team Vestas Wind have successfully lifted their VOR 65 from the Indian Ocean reef where it grounded three weeks ago during the second leg of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race.

The vessel is badly damaged, but still in one piece – "not bad for a boat which ran into the reef in St brandon at 19 knots," writes Jonno Turner for the official VOR website.

As previously reported on, the complicated retrieval operation was overseen by team skipper Chris Nicholson, who last week flew in to Mauritius, some 400km away from the remote reef, to discuss plans with team shore chief Neil Cox.

“We were able to get the boat across the lagoon this morning [21 December] on the high tides, and it went well enough that we could pull it straight out of the lagoon," said Cox of the three-hour operation.

He added that the "beyond delicate" job could not have been achieved without the help of the local work force assisting in re-anchoring the boat and carrying oxygen bottles needed for cutting off the keel.

The vessel is now being shipped to Malaysia before transport back to Europe, as VOR chiefs set up an independent report into the grounding incident. The team, meanwhile, is exploring its options for the remainder of the round-the-world yachting challenge.

The VOR website has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#VOR - One of the title sponsors of the Volvo Ocean Race has reaffirmed its commitment to the gruelling round-the-world yachting challenge.

As Scuttlebutt Sailing News reports, the Chinese-owned Volvo Cars - which is joint owner of the event with Volvo Group - is cutting back on its sponsorships of its other sporting interests to "increase its commitment and investment in the Volvo Ocean Race."

The company added in a statement: "Rather than just another sponsoring activity, it sees the Volvo Ocean Race as purely Volvo. It is the most competitive, fair and pure blend of people with nature.”

Volvo Cars' owners will surely be as pleased with the performance of Dongfeng Race Team, the VOR's first Chinese entry, as Volvo Group, which recently purchased a 45% stake in Dongfeng Motor Group as part of its push into the Chinese market.

Dongfeng is currently placed third behind Team Brunel and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing in the race standings after arrival in the UAE last week.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
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#vor – There is to be an independent report into the grounding of Team Vestas Wind's boat on a reef in the Indian Ocean has been set up by the Volvo Ocean Race.

A panel, to be chaired by Rear Admiral Chris Oxenbould (Rtd), is to provide the Volvo Ocean Race with its final report by January 31, 2015.

Volvo Ocean Race intends to make the report publicly available to make sure its learnings benefit the whole sailing world and not only the race. This is scheduled for no later than during the Auckland stopover (February 27-March 15).

Rear Admiral Oxenbould is a former deputy chief of the Australian Navy and an experienced ocean racing yachtsman with a particular expertise in navigation. He is also the chairman of the Yachting Australia National Safety Committee.

Ocean navigational expert, Stan Honey who won the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-06 as navigator onboard ABN AMRO ONE, and Chuck Hawley who serves as the chairman of the U.S. Sailing Safety at Sea Committee, will assist the Rear Admiral Oxenbould on the report.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
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#vor – The final pages of the Leg 2 epic to Abu Dhabi will be played out in the next 24 hours. The leading trio of Team Brunel, Dongfeng and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing have been close sparring partners since crossing the Equator on day 16 but one crew no longer involved is Team Vestas whose shipwrecked Volvo 65 is still reefbound. Irish camera man and onboard reporter Brian Carlin is still reliving the drama of the crash and reveals in this video above that he was in his underpants when disaster struck!

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#VOR - Disaster-struck Team Vestas Wind is "exploring the opportunity" of re-joining the Volvo Ocean Race a week after coming a cropper on an Indian Ocean reef, as Jonno Turner reports on the official race website.

The news comes days after Ireland's own Brian Carlin, the on-board reporter for the ill-fated team, gave his personal account of what went down on their VOR 65 in a video blog post.

At a press call in Abu Dhabi, host city of the next race stopover, team chief executive Morten Albæk said "we'll do everything within our means" to get the crew racing again.

But with the crashed boat a write-off, the next best option is building a new boat.

"Whether that can be done, and done in a time which is meaningful for Team Vestas Wind to re-enter the race, is still to be concluded," he said.

It's still a mystery as to exactly how Team Vestas Wind's heading put them in such close contact with the Cargados Carajos Shoals, a 50km-long reef northeast of Mauritius.

Team navigator Wouter Verbraak blamed their failure to "zoom in" on their electronic charts.

"Not doing so is the big mistake that I made," he said, "but the good thing is that we didn't make any more."

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#vestas – County Kerry's Brian Carlin, the Team Vestas Wind onboard reporter, recounts the moments Vestas hit the bricks last week in the Volvo Ocean Race. Charging through the Indian Ocean at high speed and in total darkness, nothingness ahead, nothingness around. Speed is good, sailing is supreme. And then ...BANG....

Team Vestas Wind's boat grounded on the Cargados Carajos Shoals, Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean. Fortunately, no one was injured. In the images, the crew head back to the boat to retrieve everything they can; including ropes, diesel, Inmarsat dome and sails.

The nine-man Team Vestas Wind crew were stranded after crashing on a remote coral reef, before being picked up by a coastguard boat and taken to Mauritius.

Shore crew chief Neil Cox, said: "We've had nine guys sitting on a sand pit in the middle of the Indian Ocean. "The coastguard was asking me to warn the guys that the reef is riddled full of sharks and barracuda."

Scroll down for photos of the aftermath taken by Brian Carlin:


Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#vestas – Volvo Ocean Race's ship-wrecked nine-man Team Vestas Wind crew finally made it back to civilisation today, telling of their amazing escape from a collision with an Indian Ocean reef which grounded their boat.

The unshaven, exhausted team in the global ocean race were holed up, incommunicado, for three days in the remote archipelago after their boat ran into the reef on Saturday afternoon at 1510 UTC.

Chris Nicholson, their 45-year-old skipper from New South Wales, who was contesting his fourth edition of the nine-month Volvo Ocean Race until the accident at the weekend, said he was still piecing together his emotions after the crash.

"I'm really disappointed of course - on the other hand, we have to realise how fortunate we are for everyone to be here in one piece, and to be healthy. It's pretty amazing, so there's a lot of emotions at the moment," he told shortly after arriving at dockside in Mauritius.

'Very challenging'

"The past four days have been very challenging for all of us, and I am extremely proud of the whole crew's professionalism, composure, and endurance. It's clear that human error is responsible for the shipwreck, there's no avoiding that. And as skipper, I take ultimate responsibility."

They had smashed into the coral rock at 19 knots – the equivalent of 35 kilometres an hour – in the 65-foot Volvo Ocean 65 boat, span 180 degrees and crashed to a halt, grounded on the reef.

They remained on the reef until the small hours of the following morning, before abandoning the boat in pitch darkness and wading in knee deep water to a dry position on the reef, led by Nicholson.

A small boat from the local coastguard then took them early on Sunday to a small islet, Íle du Sud, which is known as a favourite with shark-watching holiday-makers.

The crew could have left the area on Tuesday but decided to stay an extra day to pick up key equipment from their battered boat.


Their blue vessel, caught underneath breaking waves, is badly damaged, but the crew decided to remain for an extra 24 hours to complete a clean-up operation around the area.

"The bad things had to come off," said Nicholson, having just stepped off the local fishing boat, 'The Eliza', that transported the nine-strong crew back to the mainland.

"We had a clear list of removing that equipment, and once we had all those off the boat it came down to removing things that were expensive.

"We've done a really good job in clearing it all up."

Experienced New Zealander sailor Rob Salthouse was also keen to focus on the positives. "It's just good to be back on dry land," he said.

"I think the team has grown strong with what we've been through."

Danish sailor Peter Wibroe, white shirt stained yellow by sand, sweat and sea salt, was full of admiration for Nicholson.

'Very professional'

"I must say that the team worked really well together, especially Nico, the skipper, who led the whole situation in a very professional way.

He continued: "We all felt extremely safe despite the situation. We were conscious about what was going on and we all had our responsibilities.

"We worked really well as a team, and that's why we're all here today."

The team's main sponsors, Vestas, a wind energy company, said they were now focused on returning to the race which will continue until the end of June 2015.

"Though we won't be able to compete in the next leg from Abu Dhabi to Sanya, China, we are considering all available options for re-joining the race at a later stage," said Morten Albæk, Vestas' chief marketing officer.

"We'll learn more about the details of what happened exactly when we have a chance to properly debrief with the crew, which we expect to happen in Abu Dhabi over the weekend."

A spokesman from fellow sponsor Powerhouse added: "We at Powerhouse are extremely relieved that no one was injured as a result of the incident.

"When we entered the Volvo Ocean Race with Team Vestas Wind we understood it would be life at the extreme.

"The team still faces many uncertainties, however, we are more than ever committed to support the team in this extremely challenging situation and help them to get back in the race. We are deeply involved, in successful times and in challenging times."

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
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#volvooceanrace – This graphic picture (above) shows the stricken Team Vestas Wind from the Volvo Ocean Race lying in a reef in a remote Mauritius archipelago of St Brandon after being grounded there at the weekend.

The team and race organisers are now working out the best way to recover the Volvo Ocean 65 in the Indian Ocean.

Neil Cox, shore manager of the Danish team, said: "The photo paints a pretty graphic picture of what's going on out there. The picture tells a 1,000 words."

He said his focus was still the security of the nine members of the crew. "We have still got nine guys sitting on what is basically a sand pit out in the middle of the Indian Ocean. One of the crew is Irish reporter Brian Carlin from County Kerry.

"They are still the priority. It's a peace of mind to know they're all safe and doing everything they can out there with the boat right now."

Cox said that sail ropes, fluids, electronics and hardware had been taken off the boat.

The nine-strong crew abandoned ship in the early hours of Sunday morning after the collision at 19 knots at 1510 GMT the previous day and waded through knee-deep water to a dry position on the reef.

They were picked up from there at daylight by a coastguard rib and taken to the nearby Íle du Sud.

The islet has very little communications with the outside world and the crew are awaiting transportation back to Mauritius. This is expected to happen within the next 24 hours.

The National Coast Guard of the Maritime Rescue Co-operation Centre (MRCC) of Mauritius took the pictures as part of its usual operations after such an incident.

The crew have received food packages via an airdrop from a coastguard plane. It confirmed that all were uninjured in the collision.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#vor – Volvo Ocean Race control have been in touch with the shipwrecked Team Vestas skipper Chris Nicholson. The transcript of the above audio interview is below:

Hey Chris, Mark Covell here calling from Race Control.
Hey Mark, how are ya?
Yeah good, and how are you?
(laughs) Mate, I'm ah, I'm sitting here on a, on a, I guess a ship-wrecked island, it's beautiful, and I'm here in the dark because the generator got turned off an hour ago.
I've been making lots of calls on the satphone through the most beautiful night I think I've ever seen - and last night was one of the worst nights I've ever seen.
I can imagine. How are the crew holding up?
Unbelievably good. You know, we just had a really nice simple meal here on the island, fantastic. I just said to the guys just how many times in your life and your sporting career could you have such a major incident like we did, but yet not have, you know, media and friends and family and everything there. We're essentially shipwrecked.
We had dinner and everyone's spoken pretty openly and honestly about what happened, and how we dealt with the situation. About as solid a debrief as you could probably ever have.
So there's a sense of real relief and feeling lucky amongst the crew. So Chris can you tell me in your opinion, what is the condition of the boat?
It's extensively damaged. It took a massive, massive pounding. I was amazed with what was getting thrown at it and somehow it managed to keep us all in one piece. I was absolutely amazed at what happened.
It certainly kept you safe last night. So looking at the big picture, what are your major concerns right now?
My major concerns are obviously for the well-being of my crew, and also everyone who may actually have felt for them last night as well. Some of my first phone calls after colliding with the reef, once I let Race Control know, were asking (Team Vestas Wind Shore Manager) Neil Cox to get the families informed so that they knew what was going on.
During the course of things we lost all electrical supply, we lost satphone coverage, and the old snowball thing was happening. I can only imagine what was happening with the families.
So that's my immediate concern and also that we need to recover this vessel as much as we possibly can.
What have you managed to salvage already, and do you have plans to revisit the boat and salvage more water, food, equipment etc?
Yep, absolutely. The whole crew, we spent as long a time as we could retrieving today. Retrieving diesel, oil, hydraulics from the boat - and we've got another full day planned tomorrow. The damage is massive in the boat.
It's just amazing that I literally can't, I don't have the means to be able to send the photos that we have, it's not possible from where I am and that's what I said to the guys, I said we are literally shipwrecked and it's an unique experience going through it.
To describe that island you're on, just look around and paint a picture for us.
I'm looking out over the lagoon here, you can see the breaking waves on the reef which I saw all too close last night and I couldn't begin to think of a bigger contrast to last night. It's an absolutely stunning lagoon and bird colony that's on these islands, and it's just unheard of - so we are going to do our best and clean up.
Taking you back to last night again, can you just talk us through the evacuation what was it like making the decision to get off the boat, getting the life rafts off and then evacuating the boat?
When you talk about the tough decisions you have to make in life, I have to say that was number one for me, and it's one of those ones where, okay, we hit the rocks and we had massive damage. The immediate concern was just for people to be able to hang onto the boat and buy time until the situation got better.
But by that, the situation's not getting better, basically the boat has to destroy itself to end up more on the rocks and out of the breaking waves. I can't begin to describe how hard it was literally just to hang on.
Also they don't have time to go through how we wanted to evacuate if we needed to.. It was never, ever my intention to get off the boat in the dark. I just did not want to do it and that was the intention right from the start - but unfortunately when we hit the reef it was just dark so we had to spend 7-8 hours trying to hang on till daylight and we probably would have run, I dunno, 15 or 20 drills how we were going to do it.
We practised it throughout the night, always with the intention of never needing to do it, and had to make the call one and a half or two hours before daylight, when we got off.
What were you most concerned about - you talk about rocks and reef and deep water and shallow water and waves – but what was going through your mind, what was the ordeal when you made that call?
Well, we knew there was shallow water on the other side of the reef in the lagoon side. The problem was that for most of the night we were just on the deep water side where the keel was jammed in the rocks on the deep water side and the boat was being beaten by those complete point break waves. We had to just hang on through that with the boat breaking up around us, and still we kind of literally found and landed our way just onto the reef. So even then we still couldn't get off, not safely.
And then towards daylight, like two hours just before daylight, the bulb broke off and the boat leaned over heavily. While that was happening we probably lost the back of the boat, it was gone, missing, and the deck started to fold and the boat was heeling over more so I made the decision that we were getting off.
We'd already practised deploying the jonbuoy off the back to see where it would drift to, its drift rate and we already deployed one life raft which was across the reef if we could get to it. We'd been practising throughout the night how we were going to do it. We made the call and got on with the job.

Sounds like you executed it perfectly. We are speaking to you on an Inmarsat iSat phone right now and I'm concerned we are using up valuable charge to organise all your logistics. Do you have the ability to charge it with a solar panel?

Yes we do - that's been going on today. The only thing is I need to get a longer lead next time because to use it, I had to lie down on the sand. It's been a lifesaver. We quickly sustained so much damage with flooding last night that we lost all electrical supply, we lost onboard phones, so we had to get the Inmarsat phone out of the grab bag.
You think you're well trained on these things but it's different in the heat of the moment. It sort of paves the way in regards to being able to keep informed the people who need to be informed and giving both me and the crew reassurances there were more people out there than just us dealing with the situation.
And on that subject you have thousands and thousands of fans out here wishing you well - and I'm sure that they would want me to give you that message. Do you have a message for your fans out there and your loved ones?
I'm obviously ... upset with what happened... and um ... I dunno. I said today to the guys ...
Take your time...
(long pause) I said today we always believed that we're a strong team and we made mistakes which led to last night, but I have been simply blown away by the way the guys dealt with the situation and also the attitude to try and make things as right as possible today.
Yes, I can see that you've made a massive effort to try to sort the impact on the environment. And I know that Volvo will work with you and your team to sort that out in the best way possible. And on that, your evacuation off the island, what's your plan at the moment?
We're going to be working obviously all tomorrow removing all ropes and as much wiring and everything as possible from the boat. And that will lead the way with whatever final decision needs to be made in regards to what we do with the boat.
So that we'll all do tomorrow, and then I think on Tuesday morning, we make a 20-hour boat trip back to Mauritius where I'll catch up with Neil Cox. 'Coxy' is already there, I spoke to him just before you Mark and he's under way, talking with salvage crews, and got to make these decisions as to what can and cannot be done with the boat.
So obviously we've got all the videos and photos but can't get them to the rest of the world at the moment. I'll take them back with me and they can assess it, but unfortunately I'm pretty sure of the outcome.
But you know, if there is anyone who can do it I believe it's the people that we have in this programme. I can't think the story has ended here, it's a pretty unique group of people when you consider what happened last night and I guess the crisis plan that both ourselves and Volvo had in place got as good an outcome as we possibly could have in this situation.
We hope that Brian has been doing his best, he's a fantastic Onboard Reporter and I'm sure he's been documenting his side of things. How much footage does he still have the capacity to film?
It's hard in a way, because there is such a story to be told of what's happening here today and tomorrow and literally he lost a lot of camera equipment last night. We don't have the ability to go back through his footage from last night, but I think I looked over his shoulder at some of the stuff that he was doing and it will be mind-blowing.
And so, we're kind of on a budget with what we can do today and tomorrow. It was amazing to watch how people stood up for themselves.
Before you go, is there anything you need to ask of us?
No, I'm personally just very grateful for all the help and support that everyone has shown.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
Page 13 of 33

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