movistar, the Volvo yacht abandoned by its crew on Sunday after keel problems may have lost its rig

movistar, the Volvo yacht abandoned by its crew on Sunday after keel problems may have lost its rig. The 10-man crew was forced to transfer to fellow competitor ABM AMRO TWO, after the keel pivot bearing started to break away from the hull.

Skipper Bouwe Bekking took the difficult decision to abandon after battling to control water ingress. ‘We had survived for nearly 24 hours, but with a forecast of 35 to 40 knots and peaking up to 50, I just wasn’t sure the boat would hold out,’ he said. Leaving the vessel with her generator and satcoms running so she could be tracked, the crew took their supplies and transferred by liferaft to ABN AMRO TWO, the vessel carrying the body of dead crewmate Hans Horrevoets, who drowned on Thursday (see story).

movistar skipper Bekking praised the seamanship of his fellow skipper Sebastien Josse: ‘We all realised that turning around had been a very hard call for them, and hopefully they can find a little comfort that they have saved 10 lives. A boat is just a boat, you can replace it, but lives you cannot,’ he said on the Volvo Ocean Race website.

ABN AMRO TWO suspended racing this morning off Falmouth Bay so that the crew from movistar could be taken safely ashore by RIB. The yacht is now making its way to the finish line off Portsmouth.

The readings from movistar’s sailing instruments stopped yesterday, leading to suggestions that the rig may have gone over the side. If this is the case, should the vessel lose its keel, it might not necessarily invert, improving the chances of recovery. Lizzie Green of Volvo Ocean Race said, ‘At the moment that’s just speculation. It’s down to the syndicate as to whether or not they mount a salvage operation.’

The winning yacht of leg seven of the Volvo Ocean Race was ABN AMRO ONE, which, having won six of the seven legs in the round-the-world race, now has an unassailable lead.