Back in the race

Text by Jonno Turner
The price of mistakes
A classic revisited
Back in the race Text by Jonno Turner
Yesterday, the rebuilt boat of Team Vestas Wind arrived safe and sound into Lisbon. It marks the end of an epic six month journey back from the rocks...

NOV 29: With the seven boats winging their way up through the Indian Ocean towards Abu Dhabi, 10 days into Leg 2, crisis hit - as Team Vestas Wind became grounded on an atoll, some 200 miles from Mauritius.

As the night ticked on, more pieces of news began to filter through, and the crash began to make headlines across the globe.

Luckily - and some would say miraculously - none of the crew were injured. 

Now: time to figure out how to get off this rock. Skipper Chris Nicholson galvanised his troops - and what followed was an emergency evacuation, in the dark and across shark-infested waters...

DEC 22: With the help of locals, Shore Manager Neil Cox and Skipper Chris Nicholson began the delicate operation of salvaging the damaged boat from the rocks. It wasn't an easy task - but after a painstaking 48 hours, they managed to get the boat off the rocks...

“We got the boat off the reef in better condition than we thought we were going to," admitted a relieved Chris.

“We actually didn’t cause any more damage to the structure in getting the boat off, and you can see some of the components which could move across to a new or partially new boat.”

JAN 2: Meanwhile, at a press conference during the Abu Dhabi stopover, Vestas CEO Morten Albaek announced that Vestas was completely focused on rejoining the race... but it wouldn't be an easy task. With time against the team, he made it clear that every minute counts.

JAN 3: As the six remaining boats departed Abu Dhabi for Sanya, the Team Vestas Wind shore crew set off on a race of their own - heading to Malaysia to take delivery of the damaged boat and give it a once over, and then loading it onto a different cargo ship bound for Genoa in Italy, where it would be totally repaired.

"Let me be really clear, the boat's a mess. Almost everywhere, key structure is broken and this will not be easy," said Neil.

JAN 26: Special delivery! Team Vestas Wind's boat arrives in Genoa, to a picturesque backdrop of snow-topped mountains - and makes the final stretch of its journey to Persico Marine in Bergamo by road.

JAN 29: The boat arrives safely at Persico Marine. Now, this is where the real work begins. Experts must toil around the clock, stripping what's left of the boat back to basics before rebuilding it...

MAY 22: Finally, the time comes for the completed boat to leave for Lisbon. The delivery will take five days - the first part, a container ship, and the final le a truck from Setúbal to Lisbon.

May 26: The blue boat arrives into Portugal - but the team must wait until night falls before permission is granted to truck it the final 50km to Lisbon. It's a tense moment with the boat so close to its destination, yet so far. 


A video posted by Volvo Ocean Race (@volvooceanrace) on

27 May: And, in the early hours of this morning, as the fleet chalked up the final miles into Lisbon, the seventh boat crossed the Vasco da Gama bridge, taking up its rightful place in the Race Village.

Now the shore crew and sailors will work around the clock to ready the boat for the In-Port Race on Saturday June 7 and Leg 8 start the following day.

Welcome back, Team Vestas Wind!