Team Vestas Wind is 'exploring the opportunity' of re-entering the Volvo Ocean Race with a new boat just over a week after their Volvo Ocean 65 ran into a reef in the Indian Ocean.
Team Vestas Wind have revealed that a failure to properly check electronic charts for the whereabouts of seamounts led to them being grounded on a reef in the Indian Ocean and retiring from the second leg of the Volvo Ocean Race.
Skipper Chris Nicholson and navigator Wouter Verbraak confirmed in a team media conference call yesterday that “human error” was to blame for the boat hitting a reef, forcing all nine crew members on board to abandon ship on November 29 near Mauritius.
Australian Nicholson said that as the duo were going about their normal duties of discussing routes to take, they noticed they were entering an area of water where seamounts would be present.
A seamount is a mountain rising from the seafloor, typically formed from extinct volcanoes, that does not reach to the water’s surface. There are an estimated 100,000 seamounts around the globe.
Nicholson said: “I asked what the depths, currents and wave conditions would be and Wouter said depths range from 3,000m to 40m. 40m depth is a perfectly safe level to cross any piece of land.
“There was a lot of danger as soon as we hit the reef. The rudders broke off almost instantaneously.
“I feared for the worst but the levels of effort from the crew and the way they handled it shone through. But, I need to back that up by saying it was down to human error. We didn’t look into the charts properly.
“There is a glimmer of hope we can get back into the race.”
Dutchman Verbraak added: “In hindsight we would have continued to zoom in on the area on the electronic charts much more. Not doing so is the big mistake I made. The good thing is that we didn’t make any more after that.
“It was the worst moment in sailing for me, but also the best too, because of the teamwork. That is one of the things to cherish from it.”
With Vestas out of the second leg and definitely unable to repair the boat in time for the start of the third early in the new year, the Abu Dhabi-to-Sanya voyage will start with only six teams.
For now, Team Brunel are leading the way to the Middle East, with the Dutch team holding an eight-mile advantage over Dongfeng Race Team as the second leg approaches the 1,000 nautical mile to go stage.
After being overtaked on Saturday evening, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing have slipped to third and were 29 miles off the pace late last night.
Team Alvimedica, Mapfre and Team SCA range in distance from 293 to 389 miles off the leaders in fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing skipper Ian Walker talks to Sport360 reporter Matt Jones about the team's leg two progress heading to Abu Dhabi.
It has been an eventful start to proceedings for the Volvo Ocean Race fleet with Team Vestas Wind being grounded and a set of tricky circumstances welcoming the boats as they make their way to the UAE from Cape Town.
Keep up to date with all the latest news, images and videos from the race right here on Sport360.com.