The crew of movistar have been transferred to ABN AMRO Two 21/5/06

Another nightmare scenario is developing in the Volvo Ocean Race with the 10-man crew aboard movistar being evacuated from the boat and transferred via life raft to ABN AMRO Two which has been standing by all night.

Movistar’s keel problem escalated overnight and with a threat of worsening weather condition, Bouwe Bekking the skipper decided the crew should abandon ship this morning. They are now aboard ABN AMRO Two the yacht in which Hans Horrevoets died on Thursday morning.

According the the latest news from the boat movistar was sailing in 25-28 knots of breeze in big seas with three reefs and a number 4 jib when a loud crack was heard. Diverting immediately downwind, the crew checked the rams shelves which were ok, but in the keel pin area water was streaming in.

Bouwe Bekking commented: “Closer inspection showed us that the keel pin had moved 50mm in the structure sideways, and we could see the keel pin move up and down. We drilled a lot of holes in certain positions (under guidance from a structural engineer) in the structure and tightened ropes through there and then around the keel, to avoid the keel from further dropping, plus as well two halyards on strops around the keel pin.” Although the situation was stabilised, the worsening conditions with 40-50kts forecast forced Bekking to make a decision to abandon ship.

The two boats are currrently positioned 300 nautical miles west south-west of Land’s End and the Royal Navy HMS Mersey, a River class offshore patrol vessel built for UK fishery protection, has left Milford Haven in South Wales and is expected to rendezvous with ABN AMRO Two in approximately eight hours’ time and shepherd ABN AMRO Two to shore. A location has yet to be decided.

Movistar has been left with her generator and Inmarsat Satcom C communications system running so that her position can be tracked as long as possible.

At the head of the fleet, Ericsson is approximately 28 nautical miles west of the Needles at the entrance to the Solent and should dock here in Portsmouth at approximately 1400.