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Posts Tagged ‘team vestas wind’

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It’s hard to argue with a serial number, and this one starting with “VO65” does indeed dispel any doubts that the debris discovered washed up on Reunion comes not from the lost flight MH370, but from the broken-off ass-end of the Vestas Wind wreck.  Whodathunkit?  Thread here, with props to SA’er geekatlrg for the find on Reddit.

August 12th, 2015 by admin

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Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 2.16.17 PMAs Wouter Verbraak’s book tour gets underway, Danish newpaper Jyllands-Posten took the opportunity to stir up some controversy about Chris Nicholson’s escaping the TVW grounding without consequence.  We’ve already said our piece about it, but it’s worth having a look at what locals are saying in the title sponsor’s home town; especially about the yacht’s port of registration (Cayman Islands).  Huge thanks to SA’er ‘peterdane’ for the full translation; get into the forum to be part of the debate.

Wouter Verbraak had never before been trapped. Properly trapped. He had never experienced being in a situation he could not envisage a way out of. Not until now.

Wouter is together with eight others on board the yacht Vestas Wind, one of seven yachts competing in what is billed as sailings Formula 1, the Volvo Ocean Race. But Vestas is no longer a racing yacht of carbon and sails. It is more like a timber raft after it has rammed into a reef in the Indian Ocean at 30-35km/h.  Both rudders have broken away, but the boat is not stuck on the reef, it is with the help of the wind and waves being thrown further onto the reef which it has hit 5-10 minutes earlier. Again and again. The impact is huge and it is difficult for Chris Nicholson and his crew to hold on.

The crew tries, but does not succeed to get the boat off the reef. Big waves washes over the boats bow and side, Wouter Verbraak thinks they must be three to four metres high. And as Wouter later says to Sailing Anarchy, “Everything on that reef is there to destroy you”.

The time is just after 19:00 on 29th November 2014. The sun has set and that makes it harder to handle the situation. The nine men cannot get off the boat, the waves are too wild, the surroundings too uncertain.
They call Mayday over the VHF, the local coast guard answers, as does a local fishing vessel. But this is the Indian Ocean. 300kms north of Mauritius, more than 400 kms east of Madagascar.  The fishing vessel says it can only get to them at dawn.

Skipper Chris Nicholson gets hold of Volvo Ocean Race, Race Control. “We are on a reef, we cant get off. We are fucked” says the Australian.
The crew survived on what appears to be a Danish boat in the world’s toughest and biggest race, the Volvo Ocean Race. It was “noteworthy” that no one died, according to the 80-page independent report, which was made after the grounding. The report was commissioned by the Volvo Ocean Race and written by the Australian Admiral Chris Oxenbould, the American navigator Stan Honey and the American sailor and lecturer on maritime safety Chuck Hawley. We shall call it the “Volvo Report”.

Jyllands-Posten has looked at the causes of one of the most dramatic events in Danish yachting history after having gotten wind of that skipper Chris Nicholson should have broken Danish Navigation Code and face a fine or 1-2 years in prison. The picture turned out to be more nuanced than that. Nicholson has not broken Danish law, but three experts criticise him, Volvo and Vestas in several areas.  Amongst others for violating the international maritime rules and Vestas’ own Code of Conduct.
Navigator and meteorologist Wouter Verbraak has admitted that he made a big mistake before the grounding. He was, according to three new critics of Vestas, Volvo Ocean Race and skipper Chris Nicholson mistakenly made into the only scapegoat.

“Absolute responsibility “
Unlike the Dutch navigator Wouter Verbraak, it was the Australian captain, Chris Nicholson, who was awake when Vestas Wind hit the reef. He had the watch, and a on boat the captain decides. Nicholson knew this well.
“He was fully aware of its absolute responsibility as the person in charge of the safety of the boat and the people on board,” says the “Volvo Report”.

Yet Verbraak and not Nicholson got fired. By Nicholson. Not by the Australian skipper’s employer Vestas who instead handed the decisions about the consequences for the crew to no other than Nicholson.

“It compares to sailing from Elsinore with a new navigator and sail into Anholt. It cannot be the sleeping navigators error. The responsibility lies with the person who takes over the watch and takes responsibility, “says Philipp Shank-Holm who is one of three critics.  He is an experienced sailor and trained navigator, who has over the last 40 years sailed more than 100.000 nautical miles on the worlds oceans. He has participated in four Admirals Cup’s, used to be deemed as the World Championships of ocean racing. He is one of four people who criticise Vestas, Volvo and Chris Nicholson in this matter. The other three are Campbell Field, Peter Ingham and Fritz Ganzhorn.

Field is from New Zealand and has participated in three Volvo Ocean Races and was navigator in two of them. He was also technical manager for a team in a fourth Volvo  and is a professional navigator. Peter Ingham is a naval engineer and qualified yacht master to the highest level in Denmark, Ganzhorn is director of Sjøfartens Ledere (Seafearers managers), a union for employees in the naval industry. The three has looked carefully into the grounding of Vestas Wind.

In June 2014, Vestas gets an offer they cannot refuse. Volvo Ocean Race has an opening in their race and they offer it to Vestas.  “It is by far the largest sponsorship we have ever partaken in… we do it after careful consideration and we know exactly what we want from it” explains Morten Albæk the then communications and marketing director for Vestas. He is telling us about the first Danish only sponsored boat in the Volvo Ocean Race.

Many things about the boat is Danish. The sponsor is Vestas, the crew are all members of the Royal Danish Yacht Club. The boat belongs in Tuborg Havn, and Vestas Wind carries a Danish marine flag during training. The boat is 22 metres long and carries a crew of 9.   According to Danish Maritime law, any leisure vessel over 15 metres, but below 24 metres, that sail outside Scandinavia and the British Isles, has to have a skipper with the highest Yacht Master qualifications in Denmark, or equivalent. The so called Yacht skipper 1 exam. Chris Nicholson is the skipper of Vestas Wind, but he has no such qualification.

One would therefore think that the “law regarding the ships crew” that includes all Danish vessels apart from combatting ships and crew carrying vessels had been broken. The responsible would be the skipper, Nicholson and the owner, in this case Vestas, according to the Maritime Agency. If the law was broken, those responsible would face imprisonment for one year and as well as fines. The punishment could increase to two years if the breach was intentional and with gross negligence, and if an economic gain was gained or intended, hereunder also a saving.

Cayman Islands
But all this changes though by the fact that Vestas Wind does not have to abide by Danish legislation. It is owned by VFS Commercial Services in Spain, who have registered Vestas Wind in the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean. The Cayman Islands are a part of the Commonwealth and boats here sail under the legislation of both the islands and British’ legislation.

The requirements for qualifications of a skipper is much more lenient in the Cayman Islands than in Denmark.  According to the authorities on the island, Cayman Maritime, the owner of Vestas Wind, VFS Commercial Services just have to ensure that the yacht is appropriately crewed.

The registration in the Cayman Island is criticised by Fritz Ganzhorn from Sjøfartens Leders. He gives a comparison: “If you board the DFDS boat to Oslo, you have faith that it is in fact a Danish ship. We can see the Danish flag, it has Danish crew and we have an expectation that Danish rules are being followed. It would create an uproar should we find out that the boat to Oslo was in fact a Cayman Island boat and therefore could adhere to a lower standard of qualification of the crew”
The challenge to get to the start of the race is enormous for Vestas Wind. Never before has a boat had such a short preparation time for an around the world yacht race. The minimum requirement is that each boat has to sail 3700nm non stop on the ocean before the start of the race, and be in Alicante, Spain, by 9AM on 8th September 2014. Vestas Wind can just manage a continuous week at sea before they arrive in Alicante just hours before the deadline. As a comparison, Brunel has sailed 30.000 nm and Team SCA has more than ten months longer preparation time than Team Vestas, and several boats sail across the Atlantic and back. This short preparation time is in the Volvo Report named as one of the causes behind the grounding of Vestas Wind. “We did not have much time with Vestas, so we did not manage to do all the preparations” said Wouter Verbraak when he held a talk on amongst other things, the grounding, in Denmark on May 5th.
Volvo Ocean Race’s Managing Director Knut Frostad says regarding the registration in the Cayman Islands: “It is one of the best places to register larger sailing yachts. They don’t have as much bureaucracy and it is a fast registration with low fees. Cayman Islands have also got a good legal structure, which is important to the owner to safeguard their values” explains Frostad, and he denies that the registration has anything to do with avoiding the stricter Danish legislation.  “There is nothing illegal in this. I can understand that some think that the boat should be registered in Denmark when you have a Danish team, but I dont agree with them. There is no law saying that you should register a boat in Denmark because the main sponsor of the boat is Danish.”

Unethical and bad business moral
The registration is met with criticism.
“It is unethical and bad business moral to have a Danish sponsored boat, representing Denmark in a race, and then behind the scenes have it registered in a country that significantly reduces the safety of the crew due to very convenient rules regarding the qualifications of the boats skipper and navigators”, says yacht master teacher Peter Ingham. “You proclaim to the whole world that we have a Danish yacht, with Danish crew, sponsored by a Danish company and then it turns out that they mislead people to think this is a Danish boat, but in fact, it has nothing to do with Denmark. Nothing” explains Ingham.

Read the full translation in the thread here.

June 17th, 2015 by admin

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beyond the breakAs the Danish media throws some fairly nasty but mostly clueless questions around for Team Vestas Wind, the infamous navigator of the blue boat – Wouter Verbraak – has launched his all-new book about their wreck in the Indian Ocean.  

Wouter sent in this exclusive excerpt from his new book Beyond the Break for the Anarchists to peruse; we’re currently reading the full story for a review, but we can tell you right now that it is a gorgeously produced tome, including a very well-thought out selection of photos from a diverse group of VOR shooters.  Order your copy here (US) or here (NED) and have a look at a sample of the format here.

We asked Wouter why he wrote a book about something that anyone else would want to forget, and his answer introduces the excerpt.

Amongst the many comments and emails of support , I received the following advise from from a well-respected former top-executive in the Aerospace industry:

“In a crisis situations, the leader must stand up and set the tone. He should work along the thought process of We made some mistakes which we intend to share with others so that this situation is not repeated. Greatness is not gained by trying to avoid mistakes by not doing anything, but to learn and improve.”

To this end, I decided I wanted to make sure that both the story of our terrible night on the reef, the way we came through that night as a team, as well as the lessons learned should be shared. In doing so, I also wanted to take the opportunity to give an insight in my journey through professional ocean racing and share the lessons I picked up along the way.  My dream to become a ocean racing navigator started by reading a beautifully illustrated book about the Whitbread Race, in which Dutch navigator Marcel van Triest stood out by using the weather in a new way in strategy. Maybe this book might entertain and inspire that one 13 year old boy to follow his ocean racing dream? That would be amazing.

Chapter 1 – The Grounding

The sound of crashing carbon is deafening as it is amplified through the interior of the hull. I’m bolt upright in my bunk. Did we drop the rig? Did we hit a whale? I jump out of my bunk and see Salty in his underpants. The white of his eyes say it all. “There’s a rock!” I hear from on deck. I look at the little chart plotter in the navigation station. I can’t believe what I see. We are on a reef. A big wave lifts the boat up and we crash down violently.
Chris comes down and shouts. “Which way off Wouter?” “South-East, we need to get off to the SE.”

There is lots of water sloshing around in the back of the boat. We need to close the waterproof hatch I think. The boat is picked up again. I brace myself against the bulkhead and we land with another loud crash. Just getting to the water proof door is a challenge, but two smashes later, I manage to get hold of the hatch and pull it closed.

The motor is started and the noise is deafening as the guys on deck try to get off. Zooming in on the electronic charts on the laptop, I can see that we make no progress. We are being thrown backwards further onto the reef. “Reef? How can there be a reef?” We are in the middle of the ocean? How can we not have seen this?” No time for this, we need to get out of this. We need to call for help.

On deck I can hear the grinders going. “We are going to try and lift the boat over on the keel to get off.” I hear Chris say. The engine is revving wildly again as we try to cant the keel. No movement. We are stuck.

“Hello this is Race Control.” It is Dan. Thank God it is Dan. A familiar voice. Dan was with us at the Safety at Sea training in Newcastle. I have gotten to know him well over the last months. “Dan, it is Wouter from Vestas. We hit a reef.” Facts, facts, facts goes through my head. Only communicate facts. “Both rudders and the daggerboard are broken and there is water in the aft compartment. We closed the water tight hatch. We are unable to get off the reef.”
My heart is pounding. I need to take deep breaths, keep calm. A reef? How can there be a reef? Think.

The others in the fleet are miles away, and we need to get immediate assistance to get off. Where are we? Zooming in further all I can see is the green colour of a drying reef and some tiny islands. Who would be here? We are in the middle of nowhere. We have to give it a try. Mayday call. We need to make a Mayday call. Think again. MIPNANO. MIPNANO. That is it. I write the letters vertically down on the note pad. Mayday, Identification, Position, Nature of incident, Assistance required, Number of people on board, Over. I silently say my Thank you’s to the instructor at the VHF training.

I grab the VHF microphone. We get lifted up again. Hold on tight. Another crash and the cracking of carbon. This is not good. We are in serious trouble. Keep calm. Deep breath. Remember: Mayday Call, then Mayday message.
“Mayday Mayday Mayday, this is sailing yacht Vestas Wind, Vestas Wind, Vestas Wind.” OK, done. Another deep breath, now the Mayday message. Follow the letters. MIPNANO. “Mayday, this is Vestas Wind, SE part of reef on Cargados Carajos Shoals, grounded, 9 people on board, need immediate assistance , Over.”

I let go of the button. That was terrible. Absolutely terrible. I stumbled over my words and mixed up the message completely. Terrible. Will anybody answer? Please, please, let somebody answer.  I only once made a Mayday call before, and then there was no answer at all. Silence.

Focus. Deep breath. Try again. “Mayday Mayday Mayday, this is sailing yacht Vestas Wind, Vestas Wind, Vestas Wind. Mayday, this is sailing yacht Vestas Wind, we are on the SE part of reef on the Cargados Carajos Shoals in position  16 41.9 S 059 31.8 E, we are heavily grounded, we need immediate assistance to get towed off, 9 people on board, Over.” Will there be any answer this time?

“Sailing vessel Vestas Wind, this is fishing vessel Elisa.” A reply! We got a reply! A fishing boat surely is big enough to come and help us, tow us off, get us from this horrible reef. Get us safe.

I can feel my shoulders drop in relief, but that feeling evaporates as quickly as it arrived. The fishing boat says they can’t come until the morning. It is too dangerous. Not until the morning? It is pitch black. What is the time? More important what is the local time? When is sunrise? A few button pushes on the chart plotter show sunrise at 01:30 UTC. What is the time now? 15:43 UTC…That is long…twenty four minus fifteen is nine plus one is ten. Ten hours? Ten hours until they can come? Ten hours being smashed around on the rocks?

The boat is never going to hold.


June 16th, 2015 by admin

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Only boatbuilders understand the miracle that was the just what a miracle the rebuild of Team Vestas Wind was, and with the blue boat’s exit from Persico Marine, one of the fastest racing yacht builds in history is now complete.   TVW is on the road bound for Portugal, and we’ll have updates as soon as we get them.  Beautiful video of the early release of the Vestas here.  Brian Carlin photo with more here. Share thoughts in the thread.

May 23rd, 2015 by admin

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Vestas is the blue-hued spice that gives zest to this edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, and we’re rapt with attention at the rebuild saga.  At times, it’s as interesting as the race itself, especially with Brian Carlin back on the camera and edits.  Check it.


January 26th, 2015 by admin

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Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 1.25.50 AMClean Report

Like almost everyone, I hate awards ceremonies, even when I win something.  And since the ceremony for the VOR leg 2 awards in Cape Town was a 3 hour long snoozefest, I purposefully didn’t bring anything dressier than a ripped pair of jeans to Abu Dhabi, figuring it was a convenient excuse to avoid another parade of dignitaries who like to hear themselves speak. But when VOR media boss Jon Bramley told me ‘you’re my guest tonight’, the writing was on the wall, and jeans would have to do.

And boy, am I glad I went, because it was certainly the most dramatic awards ceremony I’ve ever attended, thanks to a crushing, then heartlifting presentation from OBR Brian Carlin, a choked up speech from Nico, and then the bombshell: Team Vestas Wind CEO and CMO of Vestas Group Morten Albæk’s nnouncement that Team Vestas Wind would be rejoining the fleet with a mostly new boat before the finish.   If you’ve been under a rock for a month, get the full story from my interview with skipper Chris Nicholson in Australia a couple weeks ago.

Details remain a little thin until tomorrow’s Vestas presser after the In-Port Race, but we can tell you a few things we found out:

1) The decision was literally made 24 hours ago.  A week ago they were almost sure it was over.

2) Nico has full control over selecting the crew for the rest of the trip.

3) He will take a few weeks to really mull it over.

4) Themes of redemption and unity in both Nico and Albaek’s speeches lead us to believe that the crew could remain entirely the same

5)  Lisbon may be too soon, but it’s the target.  Lorient is the backup, where we can be mostly certain to see the new blue boat begin her redemption song.

6) Vestas is 100% committed, as is co-sponsor Powerhouse.  They love this race and feel there is really only one choice for them if they want to send the right message to their employees, customers, and the world.

7) We will be able to follow the ‘race to rejoin the race’ via webcam and through updates, and the team’s sponsors are working on a documentary of the whole affair.  In many ways, this wreck – and the way it was handled – are the best and most important things that have happened to the race since the introduction of the Volvo 70.

Got questions for Team Vestas at the presser? Post ’em in the Resurrection Thread here and we’ll do our best to get them answered, and don’t forget we’ve got a great team bringing you live video coverage of the In-Port Race starting tomorrow at 0950 UTC.  That means an early morning for East Coasters and a late night for you Pacific Time folks.

Go here for some title-inspired redemption of your own, and thanks to GCaptain’s story (via shippingnews and the salvors) for the photo.

January 1st, 2015 by admin

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In a fairly amazing salvage operation, Coxy, Nico and the team somehow managed to free the Volvo 65 Team Vestas Wind from the grips of the reef, and she’s already loaded on a MAERSK container ship and bound for Malaysia in incredibly good shape, considering.  The boat will be offloaded and transshipped directly to Italy, where all the ducks are all in a row to put humpty dumpty back together again.  We have no word on whether Vestas management have decided to pull the trigger, but we know Volvo wants to see it happen, and so does the world.  Tell ’em so on Facebook, and help the big blue boat get back in the race!  Talk about it in the Vestas Resurrection thread.

Photo thanks to MAERSK, with more shots and the story of the salvage op over here.

December 22nd, 2014 by admin

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Team Vestas Wind Navigator Wouter Verbraak has been quiet since his early mea culpa on Facebook, but he’s not shying away from the camera here; our pals from NOS Sport got him for a good interview in Dutch, and then they went to the trouble to subtitle it just for the Anarchists.  And the story of the blue boat continues…


December 22nd, 2014 by admin

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Finally, here is the full story, as only the skipper could tell it.  55 minutes of everything about the why, the how, and the what next after the shipwreck that shocked the world.

Huge thanks to the M32 Series, Gosford Sailing Club, Redhanded TV, Penalty Box Productions, Morten and Team Vestas Wind, and Megan, the blonde groms, and Rusty for helping make it happen, and of course thanks to the Anarchists for giving us mostly excellent questions for Nico.

And if you want to see the boys in blue back in the race, tell them so on Facebook. 


December 17th, 2014 by admin

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Chris Nicholson sat down with us on Friday for his first real interview since his return to civilization, and with the help of about a hundred Anarchist-sourced questions we had an emotional, hour-long discussion that should answer all your questions about the grounding, the evacuation, the cleanup, the rescue, the salvage, and the future.  With both Clean and the Redhanded TV shooters in the air right now, the full edit will take a few days – but here’s a little teaser.

Be sure to check back right here on Wednesday for the full cut – it’s some of the best work we’ve ever done with one of our favorite skippers, and we owe a huge thanks to the following folks for helping to make it possible: Team Vestas Wind, the M32 Series, Redhanded TV, the Extreme Sailing Series, the Gosford Sailing Club, and of course Chris and Megan for making the long drive down to meet us.  If you want to see Nico back on the line in Newport, it’s time to start showing your support for TVW over on their Facebook Page.  You may very well make the difference…


December 12th, 2014 by admin


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