Charging through the Indian Ocean at high speed and in total darkness, nothingness ahead, nothingness around. Speed is good, sailing is supreme. And then …BANG



  1. Being a sailor I can vouch for the elements and fatigue taking control, and things being able to get out of hand easily… especially when you are in narrows and/or pushing the limits.   However, going back to my basic YM training, you put down a Lat or Long warning line, and don't let the yacht cross it.  Claiming the Nav didn't zoom in enough would have made no difference in the lat/long readout.  Going on about the speed of these yachts, etc, etc is a poor excuse – they live with these vessels for years, and should be able to assess a safe tacking distance of travel to keep in deep water.  Same with the 'middle of the night' and 'can't hear the surf' excuses… very poor.  Again, if you are surrounded by elements which challenge navigation on deck, then you make safety allowances for this.   Even if the Captain was pushing for a faster course, the Navigator should have overridden if it was unsafe.    Accidents like this are easily avoidable… that is the saddest part.  Just plain luck no one was injured.

  2.  I have some experience from solo-sailing my Beneteau Oceanis at night along the pacific east coast of Australia. I know how easy things can go wrong if you not with it! This is not at al about skill & difficulty with all the sat-gadgets available today, it is about "being there". The onshore Race-Management probably could see it was about to happen, but could they warn them? Probably not because it is a real race after all. Christ, CHILDREN is doing it ALONE and safely and with much less! Like Jessica Watson in "Pink Lady", just to mention one of many examples. I do feel really sorry for the owners and many background backers of this Vesta yacht. What a careless mega let down! This is beyond being "nice" and polite – and people must learn from careless idiots unforgivable mistakes. WHY important? look here:

  3. When i crashed my SJ24 into a reef, I felt horrible and guilty. In rn weeks following, I found that most sailers, including the good ones have hit the rocks at least once. My boat was fine and she carried on through the mission. That chanting keel must be pretty tough, I imagine it took most of the hit.

  4. I am surprised nobody got seriously hurt. We grounded on a rock (our fault) on a 48-foot boat at less than half the speed and I was surprised how violent the impact was. Fortunately injuries were minor. I can't wait until the official report, but it seems some level of human error. On a side note, was anyone wearing a PFD or harness in that video?

  5. After a gale-ridden crossing from Chesapeake Bay to Horta in the Azores on a 37' cutter, I encountered a young man who was on his final leg of a solo circumnavigation aboard a very small (less than 30 foot boat).  I inquired, "what is your greatest fear?" – he replied "land".

    Tis the boogeyman of offshore sailors.

    s/v Ferrity

  6. How does a racing sailboat slam into a charted atoll with three operational SATCOM systems on board? These are not the days of sextant and crow's nest. It's real-time satellite navigation and Internet. They have all-angle onboard video streaming.  +/-1m accuracy of where any boat is at any time, especially a big Indian Ocean reef straight ahead that'll eat the rudders, keel and tear off half the stern. It is almost beyond belief how a modern navigation equipped vessel can't identify a threat to seaworthiness and safely divert around. This boat was 130nm behind the lead and probably thought, assuming knew St. Brandon was up ahead, would make up lost ground by taking a depth below keel gamble and sail over the atoll at high water. It was nowhere near deep enough. They beached.  Good thing locals were around. That hull could never be repaired at its present location.   

  7. I am glad that no one was injured in the grounding and that they were all rescued without too much delay.  This was a huge failure of seamanship.  Watch standing 101 requires that you determine your position and examine the intended track for the watch on the largest scale chart available and identify potential hazards that may be in vicinity before you assume the watch.  You continue to monitor your position with regard to any and all traffic and hazards while you are on watch.  Finding the hazard on the electronic chart after you are hard aground, as is shown on the video at 1:16 is too little, too late.  I am not familiar with the ECDIS that they are using but most have an alarm function that you can set to your specifications, that will alert you when you are getting too close to a potential hazard.  That said if the alarm really alerts you, you haven't been paying attention anyway.   

  8. The Team Vestas crash is very much like that of the sinking of 'Aegean' in the Newport-Ensenada race.  Both boats just sailed into the rocks.  All 4 aboard 'Aegean' were lost.  Team Vestas is very lucky to be alive.  Human error for sure, as both 'rocks' were charted but some serious changes aught to be made to navigating software.  I'd think it would be easy for a pop-up alarm to tell you that your route or track progression takes you into shallow water/obstructions.  I'd think Nav software companies, Garmin, et al., could/should be held accountable, but i think their charting software has a 'not for navigation' disclaimer!  What a bunch of B.S. that is!!  If you sell a chart plotter, pony up to 'for navigation' quality.