Ocean race crew tell of amazing escape after reef collision

Wed Dec 3, 2014 1:52pm EST
 
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(Reuters) - The shipwrecked Team Vestas Wind crew made it back to civilization in the global Volvo Ocean Race on Wednesday to tell of their escape after a collision with an Indian Ocean reef which grounded and broke their boat.

The exhausted, uninjured nine-man team were left stranded for three days in the remote archipelago, in an area populated by sharks, after their boat ran into the reef on Saturday.

When the crew arrived at dockside in Mauritius, Chris Nicholson, their 45-year-old Australian skipper, explained he was still piecing together his emotions after the crash which has forced the team to pull out of the race.

"I'm really disappointed of course. On the other hand, we have to realize how fortunate we are for everyone to be here in one piece, and to be healthy. It's pretty amazing, so there's a lot of emotions at the moment," he said.

Their 65-foot vessel smashed into the coral rock at 19 knots, the equivalent of 35 kilometers an hour, went spinning 180 degrees and came to a halt, grounded on the reef.

The crew remained on the reef until the small hours of the following morning, before, led by Nicholson, they abandoned the boat in pitch darkness and waded in knee-deep water to a dry position on the reef.

(Editing by Ian Chadband)