‘Ship-wrecks’ arrive safe, tell of escape from mid-ocean reef
ALICANTE, Spain, December 3 – Volvo Ocean Race’s ship-wrecked nine-man Team Vestas Wind crew finally made it back to civilization on Wednesday, telling of their amazing escape from a collision with an Indian Ocean reef which grounded their boat.
The unshaven, exhausted team in the global ocean race were holed up, incommunicado, for three days in the remote archipelago after their boat ran into the reef on Saturday afternoon at 1510 UTC.
Chris Nicholson, their 45-year-old skipper from New South Wales, who was contesting his fourth edition of the nine-month Volvo Ocean Race until the accident at the weekend, said he was still piecing together his emotions after the crash.
“I’m really disappointed of course - on the other hand, we have to realize how fortunate we are for everyone to be here in one piece, and to be healthy. It’s pretty amazing, so there’s a lot of emotions at the moment,” he told volvooceanrace.com shortly after arriving at dockside in Mauritius.
“The past four days have been very challenging for all of us, and I am extremely proud of the whole crew’s professionalism, composure, and endurance. It’s clear that human error is responsible for the shipwreck, there’s no avoiding that. And as skipper, I take ultimate responsibility.”
They had smashed into the coral rock at 19 knots – the equivalent of 35 kilometers an hour – in the 65-foot Volvo Ocean 65 boat, spun 180 degrees and crashed to a halt, grounded on the reef.
They remained on the reef until the small hours of the following morning, before abandoning the boat in pitch darkness and wading in knee deep water to a dry position on the reef, led by Nicholson.
A small boat from the local coastguard then took them early on Sunday to a small islet, Íle du Sud, which is known as a favorite with shark-watching holiday-makers.
The crew could have left the area on Tuesday but decided to stay an extra day to pick up key equipment from their battered boat.
Their blue vessel, caught underneath breaking waves, is badly damaged, but the crew decided to remain for an extra 24 hours to complete a clean-up operation around the area.
“The bad things had to come off,” said Nicholson, having just stepped off the local fishing boat, ‘The Eliza’, that transported the nine-strong crew back to the mainland.
“We had a clear list of removing that equipment, and once we had all those off the boat it came down to removing things that were expensive.
“We’ve done a really good job in clearing it all up.”
Experienced New Zealander sailor Rob Salthouse was also keen to focus on the positives. “It’s just good to be back on dry land,” he said.
“I think the team has grown strong with what we’ve been through.”
Danish sailor Peter Wibroe, white shirt stained yellow by sand, sweat and sea salt, was full of admiration for Nicholson.
“I must say that the team worked really well together, especially Nico, the skipper, who led the whole situation in a very professional way.
He continued: “We all felt extremely safe despite the situation. We were conscious about what was going on and we all had our responsibilities.
“We worked really well as a team, and that’s why we’re all here today.”
The team’s main sponsors, Vestas, a wind energy company, said they were now focused on returning to the race which will continue until the end of June 2015.
“Though we won’t be able to compete in the next leg from Abu Dhabi to Sanya, China, we are considering all available options for re-joining the race at a later stage,” said Morten Albæk, Vestas’ chief marketing officer.
“We’ll learn more about the details of what happened exactly when we have a chance to properly debrief with the crew, which we expect to happen in Abu Dhabi over the weekend.”
A spokesman from fellow sponsor Powerhouse added: “We at Powerhouse are extremely relieved that no one was injured as a result of the incident.
“When we entered the Volvo Ocean Race with Team Vestas Wind we understood it would be life at the extreme.
“The team still faces many uncertainties, however, we are more than ever committed to support the team in this extremely challenging situation and help them to get back in the race. We are deeply involved, in successful times and in challenging times.”
Volvo V60 Polestar Wins Best New Sports Performance Car over $50,000 at the 2015 Canadian Car of the Year Awards
Toronto, ON. December 2nd, 2014. The Automobile Journalist Association of Canada (AJAC) announced this year’s “Best New” category winners for the 2015 Canadian Car of the Year Awards. Winning the 2015 Best New Sports – Performance (over $50k) category was the 2015 V60 Polestar. The two other finalists that finished behind the V60 Polestar in voting were the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat.
“Volvo Canada is thrilled to accept the award in sports performance on behalf of the impressive V60 Polestar,” said Marc Engelen, President & CEO of Volvo Cars of Canada. “The Polestar models are both high-performing and practical, offering versatility that does not go unnoticed; this award is added proof of its distinction and representation of automotive excellence.”
The event in which each vehicle was measured was at the annual “TestFest” held in Niagara Falls, Ontario this past October. The testing process was held during a five-day evaluation with more than 70 automotive journalists participating.
‘A picture to paint a 1,000 words’
ALICANTE, Spain, December 1 – This graphic picture (above) shows the stricken Team Vestas Wind lying in a reef in a remote Mauritius archipelago of St Brandon after being grounded there at the weekend.
The team and race organisers are now working out the best way to recover the Volvo Ocean 65 in the Indian Ocean.
Neil Cox, shore manager of the Danish team, said: “The photo paints a pretty graphic picture of what’s going on out there. The picture tells a 1,000 words.”
He said his focus was still the security of the nine members of the crew. “We have still got nine guys sitting on what is basically a sand pit out in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
“They are still the priority. It’s a peace of mind to know they’re all safe and doing everything they can out there with the boat right now.”
Cox said that sail ropes, fluids, electronics and hardware had been taken off the boat.
The nine-strong crew abandoned ship in the early hours of Sunday morning after the collision at 19 knots at 1510 GMT the previous day and waded through knee-deep water to a dry position on the reef.
They were picked up from there at daylight by a coastguard rib and taken to the nearby Íle du Sud.
The islet has very little communications with the outside world and the crew are awaiting transportation back to Mauritius. This is expected to happen within the next 24 hours.
The National Coast Guard of the Maritime Rescue Co-operation Centre (MRCC) of Mauritius took the pictures as part of its usual operations after such an incident.
The crew have received food packages via an airdrop from a coastguard plane. It confirmed that all were uninjured in the collision.