Volvo Ocean Race panel will seek cause of recent grounding

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An independent report into the grounding of Team Vestas Wind’s boat on a reef in the Indian Ocean was recently set up by the Volvo Ocean Race.

The incident happened on Nov. 29 on the second leg of the bluewater sail race formerly known as the Whitbread Round the World Race.

The crew escaped safely with minor injuries. Vestas Wind ran aground on the Cargados Carajos Shoals (St. Brandon), 240 nautical miles northeast of Mauritius.

A panel, to be chaired by retired Royal Australian Navy Rear Adm. Chris Oxenbould, will provide the Volvo Ocean Race with its final report by Jan. 31.

Volvo Ocean Race intends to make the report publicly available. Its release is scheduled no later than during the stopover in Auckland, New Zealand (Feb. 27-March 15).

The report can draw on information from, among others, crewmembers of competing boats, members of the race committee, electronic chart providers and emergency services organizers.

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

American ocean navigational expert Stan Honey, who won the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-06 as navigator onboard ABN Amro One, and Chuck Hawley, chairman of the U.S. Sailing Safety at Sea Committee, will assist in the report.

The panel will examine:

• What happened and why Vestas Wind ran aground;

• Consider all of the race’s administrative procedures and documentation in place for the race;

• Review the emergency management procedures in place and their effectiveness in the incident;

• Make findings and recommendations on any changes to race rules, procedures, administration, documentation, boats or equipment that might serve to prevent a recurrence.

Team Vestas Wind crew and sponsors are collaborating fully with the panel’s investigations.

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