VOLVO OCEAN RACE: Supernatural Bird Attack and Vestas Grounding Video

Bird attack

The birds are not happy with Team Alvimedica, who stood by so selflessly at Cargados Carajos Shoals waiting to help their shipwrecked mates on Team Vestas Wind. I read somewhere the other day that Cargados Carajos actually means something like Bird Excrement Island, so I’m wondering if that is relevant. What happened evidently is the boat was mobbed yesterday right around sunset by a huge gang of black noddy terns.

You needn’t take my word for it, you can watch the video right here:

Very bizarre. Only time I’ve ever seen birds behave like this is around fishing boats.

Oh, wait. There was another time that didn’t involve fishing:

And we all know how that turned out.

Seriously, though, I’m wondering why those noddies were so interested in a big black sailboat. You see in the video how the crew, in jest, captures one noddy and pretends to interrogate it, asking: Who sent you? The question, in fact, should be: What attracted you?

Black noddy tern

Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of birds??? The noddy knows!

These are not pelagic birds. They roost on shore every night and normally do not wander more than 50 miles out to sea. What it looks like to me is the birds are trying, or hoping, to roost on the boat, or in its sail, which may look like a cliff to them. That’s what terns normally do at sunset.

MEANWHILE, the Vestas crew has just published some amazing video footage of their grounding at Cargados Carajos:

What is remarkable to me is that the impact, given they were sailing 18-19 knots at the time, was not more dramatic. It seems like they were lucky in that boat suffered a series of glancing blows before it stopped, rather than stopping very suddenly all at once.

Here’s another more complete clip showing the impact in more detail:

Skipper Chris Nicholson has manned up and made a public statement that the grounding was all his fault, and we are expecting a full report once the team reaches Abu Dhabi. They are now on Mauritius, after stripping the boat of all pollutants and valuable hardware.

Vestas salvage 1

Vestas salvage 2

Vestas salvage 3

Good on them.

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2 Responses
  1. Damon Gannon

    If I was the engineer who designed the canting keel on the VOR65, I’d be dancing a jig right now. The fact that the canting keel is still attached following such a violent grounding is absolutely astounding. It wasn’t too long ago when all the talk about the Volvo Ocean race was about the fragility of the keel design in the boats that were being used then. (It’s also a minor miracle that Vestas Wind’s rig is still standing.)

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