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I saw an interview where the captain was blaming others on his crew for the errors that resulted in the wreck. It was one of the most classless displays of sportsmanship I've ever seen. The navigator did the same, blaming the shore support team for errors that contributed the wreck.
At 19 knots, it is an absolute miracle no one was seriously injured.
IMO, there is absolutely no excuse for a professional crew to screw up that badly and I would very much like to see the captain and navigator banned for life from the sport.
How many years did men sail these races with only a sextant and stopwatch without ramming their boats onto some reef? Shame on these guys.
 
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The navigator did the same, blaming the shore support team for errors that contributed the wreck.
Would you happen to have a cite for that? I've yet to hear him try to place the blame elsewhere, he certainly didn't do so in his original post on Facebook, or during the press conference call on Monday:

walking tall | Sailing Anarchy

IMO, there is absolutely no excuse for a professional crew to screw up that badly and I would very much like to see the captain and navigator banned for life from the sport.
I don't know, sounds a bit harsh, to me... And, if nothing else, if there is anyone out there now LESS likely to repeat such a mistake, it might just be those two guys...

Bernard Moitessier lost 3 boats during the course of his life. The third time, JOSHUA was destroyed on the beach during a storm after being left unattended in Cabo San Lucas, while he was in an apartment in town smoking dope with the actor Klaus Kinski... And yet, he will always be regarded by most as a quintessential voyaging icon... Go figure... :)

How many years did men sail these races with only a sextant and stopwatch without ramming their boats onto some reef? Shame on these guys.
Well, until recently, the Whitbread/Volvo races were sailed primarily along deep water/open ocean routes, where the most likely things they might have run into were icebergs... :)

As an aside, seems a shame this story has been compartmentalized in the "Racing" sub-forum of Sailnet... This story has generated a tremendous amount of discussion on other forums, I'm surprised at the comparative lack of discussion here. I suspect a lot of folks aren't reading this due to its placement under Racing, which seems a shame, as the story largely revolves around the issues of electronic navigation which are vitally important to ALL sailors today...
 

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JonEisberg
Would you happen to have a cite for that?
I just saw it on a vidclip where he mentioned how the shore support team did all the route planning and he'd been too tired to check it out thoroughly? It was only a sentence or two.

I don't know, sounds a bit harsh, to me... And, if nothing else, if there is anyone out there now LESS likely to repeat such a mistake, it might just be those two guys...
Just because nobody got seriously injured, doesn't mean that it should be passed off as an "oh well, sh*t happens" situation. Every single one of them could have died from the ineptitude of the skipper and navigator. If someone in another sport put that many other participants' lives at risk, do you not think they would be banned for life?

Bernard Moitessier lost 3 boats during the course of his life.
Apples and oranges; nobody else's life was at risk; he was a singlehander, and I guess the 3 boats he did loose cost less than that com package on Vestus. A whole lot less.

As an aside, seems a shame this story has been compartmentalized in the "Racing" sub-forum of Sailnet... This story has generated a tremendous amount of discussion on other forums, I'm surprised at the comparative lack of discussion here. I suspect a lot of folks aren't reading this due to its placement under Racing, which seems a shame, as the story largely revolves around the issues of electronic navigation which are vitally important to ALL sailors today.
I agree with this wholeheartedly.
 

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Capta.....next time you have a thought......just let it go . The Captain of the Team Vestas boat very publicly took responsibility for what happened in the old school way of I'm the Captain , I'm responsible . As well , the navigator did the same & recounted that he advised the captain when queried about shallows the depth limits were 40 m - 600 m & that he hadn't zoomed far enough in the NAV program to reveal the reef . NEITHER ONE OF THESE MEN HAS IN ANY WAY SKIRTED RESPONSIBILITY OR ATTEMPTED TO LAY BLAME ELSEWHERE . The two sentences you refer to as trying to lay the blame on the shore crew cause me to believe someone failed reading comprehension in junior high . I saw the interview in which he made that statement & he was in NO way inferring blame . " I was tired & failed to check it out thoroughly ." means exactly that .....operative word in that sentence being I. Is your arm chair comfortable enough ??? How arrogantly & casually you presume to besmirch the HONOR of honorable men . You sir.....should be ashamed .
 

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Capta.....next time you have a thought......just let it go . The Captain of the Team Vestas boat very publicly took responsibility for what happened in the old school way of I'm the Captain , I'm responsible . As well , the navigator did the same & recounted that he advised the captain when queried about shallows the depth limits were 40 m - 600 m & that he hadn't zoomed far enough in the NAV program to reveal the reef . NEITHER ONE OF THESE MEN HAS IN ANY WAY SKIRTED RESPONSIBILITY OR ATTEMPTED TO LAY BLAME ELSEWHERE . The two sentences you refer to as trying to lay the blame on the shore crew cause me to believe someone failed reading comprehension in junior high . I saw the interview in which he made that statement & he was in NO way inferring blame . " I was tired & failed to check it out thoroughly ." means exactly that .....operative word in that sentence being I. Is your arm chair comfortable enough ??? How arrogantly & casually you presume to besmirch the HONOR of honorable men . You sir.....should be ashamed .
Yes the captain did say that, but then he hedged his bets by saying something like it was a team effort and others were also not doing their jobs. He should have stopped at, "I'm responsible." period.
So where is the honor in trashing a vessel and putting all those who have placed their lives in your hands in jeopardy? These men FAILED to do their duty and they failed the trust others, from their crew to the sponsors, put in them and I see no honor in this failure. The shame is theirs, not mine. If you consider competence arrogance, then by all means call me what you please. I have zero respect for them and stand by my statement that they should be banned from the sport for life.
 

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Arm chair ocean racing skippers, navigators and crew. Don't you just love em? :cool:
And I suppose you have a couple of ocean crossings under your topsiders?
 

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And I suppose you have a couple of ocean crossings under your topsiders?
Absolutely NOT! Never even been out on the open ocean (certainly like to though). Kind of like football, baseball and everything else. Evereyone has the better way and an opinion. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know there was a foul up... by the crew. So let's give them our sympathy, our best wishes and watch the rest of the race... not beat them up, ban them from racing etc., etc..
If the crew gets nasty with each other... they have the right to, we don't. Just my .02 of inshore sailing.

David
 

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with you Dave. All the arm chair VOR racers that sail on boats that can't even get out of their own way know way more about sailing at 19 kts, then the real VOR sailors. until they have sailed in the VOR and not made a mistake they should just lay off the guys. and if they want to try again, Great, they should. I am sure the armchair guys never made a mistake either. saying the captain should take all the blame is ridiculous. it is a all out race boat and a team effort. the captain has to put trust in the guys on the team or he would have to be up 24 hours a day for the whole race. they made a mistake and someone will again. thats racing. I have raced for over 50 years. and made a few mistakes. even made one last year but not yet this year, the year is not over yet
 

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Yes the captain did say that, but then he hedged his bets by saying something like it was a team effort and others were also not doing their jobs. He should have stopped at, "I'm responsible." period.
So where is the honor in trashing a vessel and putting all those who have placed their lives in your hands in jeopardy? These men FAILED to do their duty and they failed the trust others, from their crew to the sponsors, put in them and I see no honor in this failure. The shame is theirs, not mine. If you consider competence arrogance, then by all means call me what you please. I have zero respect for them and stand by my statement that they should be banned from the sport for life.
We'll just have to agree to disagree on this...

No question, how this could have occurred in this day and age seems unfathomable... However, none of us were on that boat, we still know precious little about the precise chain of events that led to this calamity. Why not include the Watch Captain in your Lifetime Ban, perhaps even the helmsman, as well? I suspect many of us with a fair amount of sea time have made some incredibly dumb mistakes, and have simply been lucky enough that they turned out not to have such disastrous consequences. I know I certainly have. And as one who does a fair amount of singlehanded sailing, I have to accept that every time I go below to grab a bit of sleep, I could be minutes away from making what might turn out to be - in hindsight - a really, really stupid decision... But whatever Nicholson did aboard VESTAS, it certainly does not come remotely close to rising to the level of willful "negligence" comparable to the actions of the skipper of the BOUNTY, to name one example...

Furthermore, once they were on the reef, by all appearances the skipper's leadership in keeping his crew safe throughout the night and subsequent abandonment was nothing short of exemplary. Just a hunch, but I would guess that every man aboard that boat would have no hesitation of sailing with that skipper again. And, Vestas has made it clear that in the event they might be able to resume racing with another boat, Nicholson will still be their man...

I suspect the navigational practices aboard VESTAS differed very little than those aboard all the other boats, and I'll bet the reaction to this incident among the rest of the fleet has been almost a universal acknowledgment along the lines of "There but for the grace of..." It certainly appears that if DONGFENG didn't have the good fortune to pass by during daylight, they might have sailed into danger as well, they wound up cutting the reef extremely close, both at the south and north ends... SCA was the only boat to pass to the east, do we know for a fact they knew it was there, as well?

The sort of sailing these guys are doing is about as different from what most of us do, as is the difference between racing an F1 car thru the streets of Monaco, and driving down to the convenience store for some milk. Certainly, the same principle applies, we both have to keep the car on the road. I've been adamant here and elsewhere in my belief that the most rudimentary of navigational principles - maintaining a running plot on a paper chart, for instance - could have easily averted this grounding. Seems obvious such a practice was not being carried out aboard VESTAS, but whatever they were doing had worked well enough for them in the past. This is the skipper's FIFTH Volvo Race, and the navigator's resume is pretty damn impressive, as well. The only possible explanation I can come up with for this sort of fundamental lapse is a level of fatigue few of us can begin to imagine. Similar, perhaps, to the sort of disorientation climbers can experience at high altitudes on a mountain like Everest, or that cyclists have to fight through during the course of an event like the Tour de France... I simply think very few of us here can appreciate the amount of stuff the navigators of these boats have on their plates, and the amount of pressure they're under, especially when operating on the fringes of a tropical storm. The nature of the game is that these guys are acting as Weather Routers and Tacticians first, and 'Navigators' second... You and I may think they have it backwards, but that's not how the game is being played, nor how you win the VOR. Undoubtedly, the beneficial result of this incident will be to tip the scales among the rest of the fleet back towards a more favorable balance...

Finally, for those unfamiliar with the routing program Expedition that the fleet is using, this excerpt from a post over on Sailing Anarchy gives a pretty good sense of the complexity of the chore of 'navigating' a boat in the VOR has become (emphasis mine):

Navigating/Weather Routing skills with the opportunities and constraints of short-crewed offshore/ocean racing boats (particularly where wind speed and boat speed are the nearly constantly the same), simply cannot be compared with other norms people may be familiar with. By way of example:

Modern racing navigation programs like Expedition, Adrena etc are extremely powerful and sophisticated. In fact only those at the very top of the game use these programs to their full potential. At any one time a navigator may be manipulating dozens or more weather/current orientated routes including their own and those of other competitors. Overlaying this are the tactical route options that may not be weather related.

Putting aside covering competitors, a Navigators numerous route options will possible cover more than a thousand square miles for just the next 24 hours and tens of thousand of square miles beyond that. To add to the complexity these routes will all change many times a day due to onboard peer review, outside weather updates, onboard weather analysis, real time over the deck weather and observations, competitor route changes etc, This is all being done while doing around 400 - 500 mile a day!!! This offshore environment should not be confused with coastal racing where landforms and short races of say 600 mile or so reduce course options and therefore reduce workload let alone compare it with cruising navigation techniques.


As a consequence of this complex and exhausting process it is literally impossible to "zoom in" every time on a selected route and check it out for say obstructions, then drag out updated paper charts and other references to spot discrepancies which are an accepted shortfall in modern electronic charting.

To counter this problem a race navigator does as much planning as possible before leaving the dock where there is more time to make appropriate race notes and external information is readily to hand. For instance once this race is underway the internet and say Google Earth is off-limits. As Wouter attested to he followed these normal practises of pre-race planning for Leg 2 to the letter using the Sailing Instructions as issued.
 

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Your facts are simply wrong. Nico took responsibility as "captain" but then immediately said that the breakdown happened with the crew. But really, he should have been looking at the charts and ensuring there was a culture on board of looking at the charts.

Capta.....next time you have a thought......just let it go . The Captain of the Team Vestas boat very publicly took responsibility for what happened in the old school way of I'm the Captain , I'm responsible . As well , the navigator did the same & recounted that he advised the captain when queried about shallows the depth limits were 40 m - 600 m & that he hadn't zoomed far enough in the NAV program to reveal the reef . NEITHER ONE OF THESE MEN HAS IN ANY WAY SKIRTED RESPONSIBILITY OR ATTEMPTED TO LAY BLAME ELSEWHERE . The two sentences you refer to as trying to lay the blame on the shore crew cause me to believe someone failed reading comprehension in junior high . I saw the interview in which he made that statement & he was in NO way inferring blame . " I was tired & failed to check it out thoroughly ." means exactly that .....operative word in that sentence being I. Is your arm chair comfortable enough ??? How arrogantly & casually you presume to besmirch the HONOR of honorable men . You sir.....should be ashamed .
 

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The sort of sailing these guys are doing is about as different from what most of us do, as is the difference between racing an F1 car thru the streets of Monaco, and driving down to the convenience store for some milk.
Not as it relates to ensuring clear water ahead. That principle is the same, except for the fact that they have about 4 times as many people on board to do this easy task as I usually do, and I suspect the same is true for you.

I understand the constant intensity of a long distance race. The helmsman is not looking down at the chart while he veers 25 degrees off course. But there are always others on watch. It is as simple as pulling out the cell/phone tablet once per hour and doing a check that takes 3 minutes. There is time to do that.

That they don't have chartplotters on deck is crazy. And, it is not about the "brightness." Their B&G Zeus setup lights up the deck like a Christmas tree. Not for the helmsman, but someone else on deck can be looking at the chartplotter periodically.
 

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Wind and pie move my boat.
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Capta.....next time you have a thought......just let it go . The Captain of the Team Vestas boat very publicly took responsibility for what happened in the old school way of I'm the Captain , I'm responsible . As well , the navigator did the same & recounted that he advised the captain when queried about shallows the depth limits were 40 m - 600 m & that he hadn't zoomed far enough in the NAV program to reveal the reef . NEITHER ONE OF THESE MEN HAS IN ANY WAY SKIRTED RESPONSIBILITY OR ATTEMPTED TO LAY BLAME ELSEWHERE . The two sentences you refer to as trying to lay the blame on the shore crew cause me to believe someone failed reading comprehension in junior high . I saw the interview in which he made that statement & he was in NO way inferring blame . " I was tired & failed to check it out thoroughly ." means exactly that .....operative word in that sentence being I. Is your arm chair comfortable enough ??? How arrogantly & casually you presume to besmirch the HONOR of honorable men . You sir.....should be ashamed .
What I said......& this differs from explanation in the video how??? Put the crack pipes down boys & run for town.....Payless Shoes is hiring
 
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