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YACHTING

Grounded Danish ocean racers vow ‘we’ll be back’

The Danish team in the Volvo Ocean Race had to leave their boat stranded on a reef in the middle of the Indian Ocean and now plans to build a new vessel in order to complete the nine-month race.

Grounded Danish ocean racers vow 'we'll be back'
A Volvo Ocean Race Hand Out image shows Danish Team Vestas Wind aground on the reef in Cargados Carajos Shoals off the coast of Mauritius on November 30th. Photo: Amory Ross/Team Alvimedica/Scanpix
Danish entrants Team Vestas Wind are planning to build a new vessel in double quick time to ensure they can finish the Volvo Ocean Race after grounding their previous boat last week.
 
The team's CEO, Morten Albæk, told a press call on Monday that their boat could probably not be repaired after it collided with a reef in the middle of the Indian Ocean on November 29th.
 
Their Australian skipper Chris Nicholson led the crew to relative safety on a nearby islet, Íle du Sud, after the crash but later discovered it had almost no communications with the outside world and was surrounded by sharks. After spending two days stranded there, the crew were rescued by a fishing boat and taken to Mauritius. The boat is still stranded on the reef.
 
"It is Vestas' clear ambition to get Team Vestas Wind out sailing again," Albæk told reporters in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
 
"We'll do everything within our means to make that happen. That said, the assessment from all parties is that the boat can't be repaired, and therefore one of the options we're looking into is building a new boat," added Albæk.
 
"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. We're working closely together with Volvo Ocean Race on exploring that opportunity."
 
Normally, the 4.5 million euro (33.3 million kroner, $5.53 million), one-design Volvo Ocean 65 takes nine months to build but Vestas plan to do it around half that time.
 
The nine-month race, which started in Alicante, Spain on October 4th, is scheduled to finish in Gothenburg, Sweden on June 27 next year.
 
Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad warned it would be tough task to build the new 65-foot yacht in time.
 
"I must underline that that is no small challenge. I don't want anyone to have expectations that this will easily happen; it's an enormous challenge," he told the press call. "But the Volvo Ocean Race is all about enormous challenges."
 
The second leg from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi of the round-the-world, nine-month marathon is expected to be completed by the remaining six boats in the fleet at the weekend.

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YACHTING

Danish crew’s boat crash leads to call for overhaul

After the Danish team in the Volvo Ocean Race had to leave their boat stranded on a reef in the middle of the Indian Ocean, a panel has recommended changing the industry standards of charting.

Danish crew's boat crash leads to call for overhaul
A Volvo Ocean Race Hand Out image shows Danish Team Vestas Wind aground on the reef in Cargados Carajos Shoals off the coast of Mauritius on November 30th. Photo: Amory Ross/Team Alvimedica/Scanpix
An independent report into the crash of Volvo Ocean Race boat, Vestas Wind, on an Indian Ocean reef has recommended an overhaul of navigational charting in offshore racing to prevent a similar incident in the future.
 
The Danish boat's crew miraculously avoided serious injury when they collided with the reef at St Brandon on November 29 last year at around 40kph and span 180 degrees before coming to a halt, grounded.
 
 
The vessel was badly damaged and the crew were forced to abandon it in the pitch darkness and wade to the safety of a nearby large rock in shark-infested waters before being rescued at first light by coastguards.
 
The Team Vestas Wind boat has since been retrieved and is being rebuilt for a return to the nine-month marathon race in June, but organizers commissioned a report in December into how the accident occurred and guidelines to avoid a repetition.
 
A retired Australian Navy rear admiral, Chris Oxenbould, headed the report's panel of three, which revealed its findings on Tuesday in a global media call.
 
It found that a failure by the crew to spot the reef on onboard electronic navigational guides was to blame and has recommended that industry standards of charting, both electronic and paper, be improved.
 
In particular, the panel says that a passenger aircraft-style list of check-points should first be ticked off before ocean racing boats take to the open sea.
 
This currently does not happen in many leading events, including the Volvo Ocean Race, which is widely considered the sport's top offshore challenge.
 
Both the Volvo Ocean Race and the Vestas Wind's Australian skipper, Chris Nicholson, have welcomed the report.
 
The fleet sets out from Auckland for the fifth leg of nine on Sunday, March 15. It is the longest and most challenging stage of the nine-month race, which takes the fleet through the Southern Ocean to the next destination of Itajaí in Brazil.
 
The 38,739-nautical mile race will conclude on June 27, in Gothenburg, Sweden, after visiting 11 ports in total and every continent.
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