A picture posted on the Volvo Ocean Race website shows the sad wreckage of Chris Nicholson’s Volvo 65 Team Vestas Wind that ran aground. 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.
All crew were uninjured.
In an interview that we posted earlier today, skipper Chris Nicholson suggested that there was little hope of recovering the boat.
“We’ve got all the videos and photos but can’t get them to the rest of the world at the moment. I’ll take them back with me and they [shore crew] can assess it, but unfortunately I’m pretty sure of the outcome,” he said.
This picture appears to show why and put an image to Nicholson’s graphic and harrowing account of the grounding. Here’s an excerpt of what he said.
“We knew there was shallow water on the other side of the reef in the lagoon side. The problem was that for most of the night we were just on the deep water side where the keel was jammed in the rocks on the deep water side and the boat was being beaten by those complete point break waves. We had to just hang on through that with the boat breaking up around us, and still we kind of literally found and landed our way just onto the reef. So even then we still couldn’t get off, not safely.
“And then towards daylight, like two hours just before daylight, the bulb broke off and the boat leaned over heavily. While that was happening we probably lost the back of the boat, it was gone, missing, and the deck started to fold and the boat was heeling over more so I made the decision that we were getting off.
“We’d already practiced deploying the jonbuoy off the back to see where it would drift to, its drift rate and we already deployed one life raft which was across the reef if we could get to it. We’d been practicing throughout the night how we were going to do it. We made the call and got on with the job.”
From earlier reports, shortly after the boat went aground, Nicholson described the boat’s orientation as being with the bow out to the sea. This appears to be the orientation of the boat in this picture.
Sadly the picture appears to say it all.