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Nov 29, 2014 6:46 PM

Volvo Ocean Race crew prepares to abandon ship

The Associated Press

A boat in the Volvo Ocean Race ran aground on the Cargados Carajos Shoals, Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean and the crew planned to abandon ship at daylight Sunday.

Race organizers said late Saturday there were no injuries to the crew of Team Vestas Wind.

Team Vestas Wind reported both its rudders were broken and the stern of its 65-foot boat was being beaten on rocks, with the bow pointing out to sea. The team deployed two life rafts some 50 feet from the boat, which the crew can reach.

The Volvo Ocean 65 sloops have watertight bulkheads in the bow and the stern. The rest of the boat is intact, including the rig.

Race organizers said the plan was to abandon ship at daylight with the assistance of the coast guard at Ile du Sud and the American-based Team Alvimedica.

The shoals are some 850 miles east of Madagascar.

Team Alvimedica was motoring with sails down about 1.8 miles from where Team Vestas Wind was grounded and was in radio contact with Danish-backed Team Vestas Wind.

"Racing has become secondary at this point," Team Alvimedica skipper Charlie Enright of Bristol, Rhode Island, said through organizers. "Our No. 1 priority is the safety of the Vestas crew and we will do anything we can to help them and we will not alter our plan until the situation is under the control."

Team Vestas Wind is skippered by Australian Chris Nicholson, who has consecutive runner-up finishes in the Volvo Ocean Race, with PUMA Ocean Racing in 2009 and CAMPER in 2012.

Team Vestas Wind was in fifth place on the second leg, from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi, when the accident happened.

The Volvo Ocean Race began Oct. 11 from Alicante, Spain, and will end in Gothenburg, Sweden, in June. It will cover 38,739 nautical miles. The U.S. stopover is in Newport, Rhode Island, from May 5-17.

Volvo Ocean Races crews are never far from danger.

In May 2006, Dutch sailor Hans Horrevoets died after being swept off the deck of ABN AMRO TWO in the North Atlantic. The crew turned back and pulled him out of the water but couldn't resuscitate him.

Three days later, with Horrevoets' body still aboard, ABN AMRO TWO responded to a distress call from rival movistar of Spain and rescued its 10-man crew.


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