Published: Monday, 09 March 2015

An independent report into the grounding of Team Vestas Wind on Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race has been released. Recommendations include improving navigational charts and other on board software to avoid similar incidents in the future.

Vestas Wind Grounding Report Released

The Danish boat, Vestas Wind (Chris Nicholson/AUS) was stranded on a reef at Cargados Carajos Shoals in the middle of the Indian Ocean during the stage from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi on November 29. The crew were forced to abandon the boat.

The badly damaged Vestas Wind has since been retrieved from the reef and is being rebuilt in the Persico boatyard in Bergamo, Italy to possibly return to the race for the last two stages starting from Lisbon, Portugal in June.

A panel of three experts conducted the independent report into the incident, commissioned by the race in December: retired Rear Admiral Chris Oxenbould, Stan Honey and Chuck Hawley.

The panel reported that the facts of the grounding had already been well publicised and that its findings regarding what happened are based on interviews with the crew, race management, other relevant parties and recorded data.

“The team was unaware of any navigational danger in its vicinity, incorrectly assessed the minimum charted depth at Cargados Carajos Shoals to be 40 metres and understood that it was safe to sail across the shoals,” the panel reported in summary.

Vestas Wind Grounding Report Released 1

The panel did not allocate blame, but has made the following conclusions:

   1. There were deficiencies in the use of electronic charts and other navigational data on board Vestas Wind.

   2. There were some deficiencies in the cartography presenting the navigational dangers on the small and medium scales of the chart system in use.

   3. The emergency management worked well and there were no administrative or race management issues that contributed to the incident.


The panel’s main recommendations are:


   1. That a provided set of guidelines for the use of electronic charts be endorsed and adopted in the race and subject to further review and refinement.

   2. That the providers of the chart system used and the manufacturers of one of the on board navigation software systems be advised of the perceived deficiencies.

   3. The panel suggests that Volvo Ocean Race uses its leverage and influence in the yachting industry to encourage the development of an improved navigation system including charts and software.

“Our plan is to circulate the guidelines to the skippers and navigators (as recommended by the report) here in Auckland and also include them in future Notices of Race,” says Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad.

The fleet sets out from Auckland for the fifth leg of nine on Sunday, March 15. It is the longest and most challenging stage of the nine-month race, which takes the fleet through the Southern Ocean to the next destination of Itajaí in Brazil.

The 38,739-nautical mile race will finish on June 27, in Gothenburg, Sweden after visiting 11 ports in total and every continent.