One of the seven Open 65 yachts competing in the Volvo Ocean Race, which the sailracing community considers one of the toughest endurance events on the planet, is out of the race.
The nine-man crew of Team Vestas Wind was rescued early Sunday morning after the Danish team's 65-foot boat was grounded on a reef in the Indian Ocean, forcing them to abandon it.
For several hours, the crew stayed aboard. The boat was stuck fast in the reef with the bow facing the ocean as waves battered the stern.
Both rudders were broken in the collision and the stern began to take on water, although the stern compartment was locked tight.
About midnight, led by Australian skipper Chris Nicholson, the team abandoned the boat and waded knee-deep through the sea to a dry spot on the reef. There they were rescued by a coastguard RIB at daybreak.
The Danish team’s concern now will be a salvage mission for their boat, but it was not immediately clear how much damage the grounding had caused.
Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad said it was not yet known why Nicholson’s crew hit the reef.
“I’m extremely relieved that every one of the nine crewmembers now are safe and that nobody is injured,” he said in a statement. “That has always been our first priority since we first learned about the grounding.”