An ‘Oops!’ moment that stays with you
AMSTERDAM _It was not Wouter Verbraak’s finest hour. And striking that Indian Ocean reef halfway the Volvo Ocean Race’s 5,200 nm Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi is bound to haunt the Dutch navigator of Team Vestas Wind for a long time.
Aussie Skipper Chris Nicholson, who evacuated his crew from the boat on Nov. 29 onto the remote island of Íle du Sud, said later that, in considering the route, he and Verbraak noticed there would be some seamounts.
“When I saw those I asked what the depths and the currents and the wave conditions would be,” the VOR site quotes Nicholson as saying. “Wouter’s reply was that the depths went from 3000m to 40m, (that) the current was negligible and we would monitor the wave state as we approached.”
Added Verbraak, who has been on 2 VOR campaigns and 1 America’s Cup contest: “In hindsight we would’ve continued to zoom in on the area much more. Not doing so is the big mistake that I made, but the good thing is that we didn’t make any more.”
Nicholson, making the best of a dreadful situation, told a Dec. 8 press conference that striking the reef “was a stressful time. But we need to back up and remember that this was bought on by a simple human error…we didn’t look at the chart and we didn’t zoom in enough.”
Vestas Chief Marketing Officer Morten Albæk added “it’s Vestas’ clear mission to get Team Vestas Wind back into the Volvo Ocean Race.” Back into the VOR? Really? “It’s going to be a joint effort … The expectation is that the boat cannot be repaired (but) it’s a complex process to get a boat back into the race. We’ll do everything we can to investigate the possibility of a new boat.”