Published: Tuesday, 15 September 2015

On her way from Palau to Chagos Islands, in the Indian Ocean, the ‘Race for Water Odyssey’ (R4WO) MOD70 trimaran capsized, 90 miles southeast from the Chagos Archipelago.

Race For Water Odyssey Trimaran Capsizes

(Photo: Peter Charaf/Race for Water 2015)

Thanks to the assistance of the military base in Diego Garcia, the Pacific Marlin, a ship from the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), rescued the crew after more than 30 hours spent in the upturned mainhull.

"The conditions have been really difficult for a few days, as often is the case in the Indian Ocean,” says R4WO Skipper Stève Ravussin. “Big swell, high waves, and the fact that the crew were tired after the 32,000 miles (Note: already more than a normal round the world course) that we have already travelled were some of the factors that triggered the unfortunate accident. The crew is safe and we all agree on the fact that the expedition must continue. My priority is now to retrieve the trimaran.” 

The crew has been working hard on the recuperation of the boat off the coast of the Archipelago of Chagos, in the middle of the Indian Ocean. 

Initiated by the Race for Water foundation, the R4WO is a unique expedition that aims to draw up the first global assessment of plastic pollution in the ocean by visiting island beaches situated in the five trash vortexes.

Race For Water Odyssey Trimaran Capsizes 1

(Photo: Christophe Launay/Race for Water 2015)

In less than 300 days, over 40,000 nautical miles will be traveled, along with 11 scientific stopovers and nine outreach stopovers, involving a total of 13 countries.

The Odyssey has completed 11 stopovers so far and has collected a considerable amount of data in the North Atlantic, South Pacific and North Pacific trash accumulation zones. Quantitative analyses are currently in progress but preliminary results already show one clear thing – this pollution is a real environmental disaster everywhere.

"This accident is shocking and disappointing for all of us. However, it is crucial to continue the fight against this environmental and global disaster,” says President of the Race for Water Foundation and expedition leader Marco Simeoni. “The Odyssey is not called into question and its goals – on the one hand to raise awareness of plastic pollution in the oceans among the general public and on the other hand to get an understanding of the issue thanks to various scientific and sociological analyses - remain. We may have lost our boat ambassador but our determination and motivation are stronger than ever." 

Race For Water Odyssey Trimaran Capsizes 2

(Photo: Peter Charaf/Race for Water 2015)

Remaining stopovers of the expedition are to be maintained, but the program will be modified during the stopovers to come: Rodrigues (Sept 23-30), Cape Town (Oct 12-18), Rio (Nov 4-12) and Bordeaux.

Onsite, the onshore team will continue to sample beaches (in Rodrigues) as well as organize activities to raise awareness of the problem thanks to school presentations, meetings with scientists, exhibitions and other events to alert local populations on the urgency to act to preserve our oceans.