Photos: Shane Smart

Team Vestas Wind VO65 recovered

Plus a great photo sequence of the salvage by Shane Smart

Tuesday December 23rd 2014, Author: James Boyd, Location: Mauritius

Team Vestas Wind yesterday successfully recovered its stranded VO65 from the remote Cargados Carajos Shoals in the middle of the Indian Ocean on to which it ran aground on 29 November.

After three days’ planning, the boat was gingerly floated clear of the reef on Sunday evening to a lagoon on the leeward side of the Shoals. From there it was lifted on to a waiting Maersk Line ship which is now bound for Mauritius and Malaysia before returning to Europe, where there is a possibility that the boat will be rebuilt.

Team Vestas Wind Shore manager Neil Cox and skipper Chris Nicholson oversaw the recovery.  Cox said they had to clear a path through the reef to ensure they could extract the stricken yacht without damaging it further: “We needed to be very careful and just make sure that we finished the job swiftly. We've been really lucky that from the minute the incident happened, we've developed a relationship with the guys who actually live on the island here. We've employed the workforce that already exists out here, and without it we couldn’t have done the job, full stop. There's probably a work force of 10 guys. They've been standing knee deep in water with waves hitting them all day, they've been carrying oxygen bottles for us to be able to cut the keel off, they've been helping us re-anchor the boat otherwise things would start moving across the reef.”

Cox was cautious about over-promising on next steps – the boat will be checked out more fully in Malaysia before heading to Europe, possibly to Italy [Persico one imagines where the hull mould resides], for a rebuild.

“A week ago the light at the end of the tunnel was getting smaller and smaller, but what we’ve been able to retrieve off the reef is substantial. I'm not going to say it's great by any means, but it's the first stepping stone, and it's enough to shine a light and to work hard to put things back into place. “

Volvo Ocean Race COO Tom Touber explained that the retrieval was achieved thanks to meticulous planning beforehand. “Our preferred plan – to rescue the boat as intact as possible – worked out,” he said.

Touber paid tribute to the race’s shipping partners, Maersk Line, and their retrieval company, Svitzer, which played a large role in the operation. “We have had awesome co-operation,” he said. “They were a dream to work with. For both ourselves and the sponsors of the boat – Vestas and (sub-sponsors) Powerhouse – it was also completely key that we made sure that the environment in this beautiful part of the world was looked after too.”

Team Vestas Wind CEO and Vestas Chief Marketing Officer, Morten Albæk, added his voice to the praise for Maersk and the residents of the island who assisted with the retrieval.

“We have been in contact with the shore manager of Team Vestas Wind, Neil Cox, throughout and were so relieved to hear that the operation to lift the boat intact on to the ship was a complete success thanks to great teamwork involving Maersk, our team, Volvo Ocean Race and the local people. For us, the environmental side of this project was a key objective. It’s mission accomplished.

"We'll make an announcement on the outlook regarding a potential return to the 2014-15 race before the start of Leg 3.”

Some great pics from Shane Smart:



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