Irishman Brian Carlin and crew abandon Volvo Ocean Race vessel

Team Vestas Wind forced out of event after grounding on tiny reef near Mauritius

A Volvo Ocean Race hand out image shows Danish Team Vestas Wind aground on the reef in Cargados Carajos Shoals, Mauritius. The nine-strong crew including Kerryman Brian Carlin were rescued after abandoning the boat. Photograph: Amory Ross/Team Alvimedica/EPA

A Volvo Ocean Race hand out image shows Danish Team Vestas Wind aground on the reef in Cargados Carajos Shoals, Mauritius. The nine-strong crew including Kerryman Brian Carlin were rescued after abandoning the boat. Photograph: Amory Ross/Team Alvimedica/EPA

 

A nine-strong Volvo Ocean Race crew including Kerryman Brian Carlin were forced to abandon their boat in the early hours of Sunday after it was badly damaged when it became grounded on a reef in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Danish entry Team Vestas Wind was running in fourth place in leg two between Cape Town and Abu Dhabi when the collision happened close to the tiny archipelago of St Brandon, 430km to the north-east of Mauritius in the Cargados Carajos Shoals, at just after 3.0pm Irish time on Saturday.

The incident occurred in a part of the Indian Ocean known for being well populated by sharks.

For several hours, the crew stayed onboard their stricken vessel whose stern was being beaten badly by the waves as it was stuck fast in the reef with the bow facing the ocean.

The rudders were broken in the collision and the stern began taking on water although the stern compartment was locked tight.

The order to abandon the €4.75 million boat was given by Australian skipper Chris Nicholson around midnight Irish time and he led his team, wading knee deep through the waves in darkness, to a rock which provided them a dry place to shelter. Race officials reported that their were no injuries suffered by the crew.

A small boat from the nearby coastguard then picked them up just after daybreak and took them to the tiny islet of Íle du Sud where they rested after their ordeal.

Another boat in the race, Team Alvimedica (Turkey/USA) stopped racing and sped to the area where Vestas was grounded to assist if necessary. It was later cleared to resume after Nicholson confirmed that none of his crew were injured and had been safely rescued.

Team Alvimedica navigator Will Oxley reported: “All is well on board, though it is fair to say we are all shattered and quite emotional about what happened.

“We are really pleased we were able to be of assistance and that the crew of Team Vestas Wind are all well and we look forward to a beer with them as soon as possible.”

Race CEO Knut Frostad said: “I’m extremely relieved that every one of the nine crew members now are safe and that nobody is injured,” race CEO Knut Frostad said. “That has always been our first priority since we first learned about the grounding.

“I really feel for Chris and the team right now and we will continue to support them all the way going forward.”

Five people have lost their lives taking part in the race since it started in 1973.

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