Clipper Race founder, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, believes a 'review of regulation, and the speed of reporting of key learnings' is needed as the MAIB publishes their report into the grounding of CV24 off Cape Town

29 June 2018

Clipper Round the World founder, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston is calling for a review of regulation and ‘the speed of reporting of key learnings’ from maritime incidents, after the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) published its findings into the grounding of Clipper yacht, CV24.

The MAIB has said ‘insufficient planning’ led to the vessel running aground off South Africa on 31 October 2017, during Leg 3 of the race. No one was injured, but the yacht was eventually holed and could not be salvaged.

It also found that ‘no crew member had been assigned to the navigation station, depth information was not being displayed at the helm and there were no safe cross track distances or safety depths plotted on paper or electronic charts.’

The skipper was the only professional sailor aboard, and was responsible for navigation.

‘An hour and a half before grounding CV24 was sailing on a southerly course towards the open sea under its full mainsail and medium weight asymmetric spinnaker; it was dark and visibility was moderate in hazy conditions,’ stated the MAIB report.

‘The true wind then started backing from a north-easterly to a north-north-westerly direction and increased in strength. As this happened the crew made a succession of small alterations of course to port to maintain the same apparent wind direction and prevent an unwanted gybe or spinnaker collapse. However, these alterations resulted in the yacht being sailed close inshore.’

‘The skipper had realised that a gybe would be necessary to head away from danger but, soon after this turn was made, CV24 grounded and could not be freed.’

A Clipper yacht agruond off Cape Town

Credit: Clipper Round the World

‘The grounding happened because the crew on deck had insufficient positional awareness to recognise the imminent risk of grounding. The skipper was the only person monitoring navigation and had become distracted by the requirement to supervise the crew on deck,’ stressed the MAIB.

At the time of the grounding, the wind was 20-25 knots and the conditions were dark and hazy, making visual references poor.

The Clipper Race instructions’ advisory warning for all yachts was to remain at least 10 miles offshore at night. It has since introduced compulsory mandatory exclusion zones around all navigational hazards, and no Clipper vessel can roam into less than 20m.

Seven of the 11 other race yachts followed courses similar to CV24’s towards the shore and CV31 almost certainly also grounded, although managed to gybe to alter course.

The MAIB also highlighted the lack of an experienced navigator aboard CV24. Provision of this role had been recommended to Clipper after the grounding of the Clipper yacht CV4 on a reef in Java.

The absence of a second professional sailor, which was recommended to Clipper in 2017 by the MAIB after the deaths of Andrew Shipman and Sarah Young during 2015-16 race, was also raised. ‘With only one professional, employed seafarer on board, the Clipper yachts were not safely manned for the round the world race,’ stated the MAIB in its CV24 grounding report.

Clipper round the world yacht Greenings

The CV24 crew continued the race on other yachts after the grounding. Credit: onEdition/Clipper Round the World

Despite the 2017 recommendations, Clipper introduced its Clipper coxswains, who underwent a Maritime and Coastguard Agency-approved training course. It felt they would be able to raise concerns rather than a company employed qualified mate.

The designated Clipper coxswain was off watch at the time of CV24’s grounding.

CV24 was coded Category 0 when undertaking the round the world race, which usually carries a requirement to have a minimum of two crew both holding a commercially endorsed RYA Yachtmaster qualification. There was also a requirement to ensure that there was at all times, a person with adequate experience in charge of the navigational watch.

Clipper, said the MAIB, had negotiated a bespoke agreement with the MCA, allowing this second professional on board to be a Clipper coxswain when a second qualified Yachtmaster was not available.

After the CV24 incident, the MCA revoked the agreement and Clipper Race immediately introduced additionally qualified mates on board, in addition to the coxswain crew.

It also created an internal Safety Audit Department, led by the Chief Operating Officer and introduced procedure so all passage plans are checked by company staff before each leg.

Investigators also recommended to Clipper that it takes ‘urgent action designed to improve the ability of its skippers and watch leaders to maintain positional awareness while on deck in pilotage and coastal waters’.

Considerations included: the provision of a navigation/chart display on deck by the helm position; more effective use of onboard navigational equipment to avoid danger, including a means for rapid communication between the navigation station and the helm and more clearly defining the duties of the watch navigator.

The MAIB report into the CV24 incident also revealed that the skipper failed to make a “Mayday” or “Pan Pan” distress call until 50 minutes after running aground. The race director was informed of the incident 23 minutes after it happened.

The Clipper Round the World Race was established in 1996. Since then, there have been 11 editions, with a total of 97 yacht circumnavigations (a cumulative excess of 4 million nautical miles), over 5000 crew undergoing extensive training, plus the successful running of three Velux 5 Ocean Races.

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston

Speaking following the publication, Sir Robin said: ‘Clipper Ventures, which is currently completing its fourteenth around the world yacht race, is committed to maintaining the highest possible safety standards across its training and racing. This incident brings up vital learnings for all yachtsmen.

‘As part of our investigations, we were most concerned that a number of yachts were ignoring the race instructions’ advisory warning to remain at least 10 miles offshore at night. As a result of this incident we immediately implemented mandatory exclusion zones around navigational hazards.

‘We also implemented new guidelines to Skippers and our Race Officials are now monitoring the quality of all passage plans going forward. We are confident that these two initiatives will significantly reduce the risk of such an incident occurring in the future.’

He continued: ‘Clipper Ventures runs a safety management system which exceeds all regulatory requirements and recommendations. As a result, we have been at the forefront of implementing safety initiatives to ocean racing such as AIS beacons on Dan buoys and in Lifejackets, a system now being introduced by World Sailing, double tethers on harnesses, sea survival training for all crew, ISAF survival training, and swimmer assisted MOB recovery using dummies.’

‘Nevertheless, we are always looking for ways to improve and continue to review our systems to make sure they remain at the forefront of best practice.’

‘The lessons for our industry at large are significant and a review of regulation, and the speed of reporting of key learnings, is urgently required. It is unreasonable to expect individual companies such as Clipper Ventures to path-find on safety without the support and encouragement from the relevant authorities,’ concluded the Clipper chairman.

13 November

As investigations continue into the grounding of the CV24 Greenings off the South African coast, the yacht’s crew are being given the chance to continue the Clipper Round the World race.

The 11 remaining skippers are offering former Greenings crew members a place on board to compete as part of their respective teams for the remaining legs of the series.

Six Greenings crew members have already been given places on board after the team diverted to Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Since then, efforts have been continuing to reallocate other crew, who will be competing in future legs, across the fleet to ensure that they can continue their Clipper Race journey.

Race director, Mark Light, said it was “fantastic” to see such a positive story emerge from what has been a very unfortunate incident.

“It’s been important for us to get the Greenings crew back on the water to compete in the Clipper Race and we have been speaking to crew members who are due to complete future legs to find out what their preferences are for continuing,” he said.

“I’d like to thank everybody for their patience whilst this process has taken place and I am delighted to confirm we have been able to find space for everybody wishing to continue with the race,” added Light.

Each of the remaining 11 teams will have at least one new Greenings crew member joining.

The affected crew members have now been informed which teams they will be joining, and the Clipper Race website will be updated over the next week to reflect this.

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Managing director of Greenings, Andrew Greening, said: “Despite the yacht (CV24) taking no further part in the Clipper 2017-18 Race, I’m pleased to see that the Greenings team ethos will live on throughout the fleet and we will continue to support our crew members who have been reallocated to other teams.”

“I’ve always said that there is something special about this team and whilst they may be continuing their respective journeys on board different yachts, I’m sure that they will continue to maintain that close bond that they have already forged and I look forward to seeing them at future stopovers,” he added.

Skippers and crew members from the remaining 11 Clipper Race teams will be informed shortly on details of which former Greenings crew members will be joining their teams so that efforts can be made to integrate them as quickly and as smoothly as possible.


02 November

The voyage has ended for the Clipper Race yacht CV24, Greenings, after it ran aground near Cape Town on 31 October.

In a statement, Clipper Race officials confirmed the yacht is partially underwater on the western side of the Cape Peninsula, and that it will take no further part in the Clipper 2017-18 Race.

Discussions are ongoing with Greenings crew over their future participations in this edition of the race.

Underwriters have appointed a surveyor will be visiting the beleaguered yacht before completing a full report. A decision will then be made as to whether the boat can be salvaged or not.

The crew of Greenings were evacuated from the yacht after it ran aground at approximately 2140 UTC (2340 local time) on 31 October after departing Cape Town earlier in the day for Leg 3 of the eight-leg global sailing race.

No one was injured as a result of the incident.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has begun a full investigation into the grounding.

Greenings is not the first Clipper Round the World Race yacht to run aground. In 2015, LMAX Exchange ran aground around 42 miles off Rio de Janeiro. No one was injured and the yacht was eventually repaired. LMAX Exchange went on to win the overall race.

In January 2010, the Clipper 68 Cork Clipper ran aground on the Gosong Mampango reef in the Java Sea. The crew were evacuated from the yacht, although it was abandoned after it was decided that attempts to salvage her wouldn’t be economical.

The team continued the race in a chartered Challenge 67 yacht, Aurora of London.


01 November

An investigation is underway after one of the 12 teams taking part in the Clipper Round the World race ran aground off Cape Town, South Africa.

The skipper and crew of Greenings had to be evacuated as a precautionary measure from the CV24 yacht following the incident which happened on the 31 October at 2140UTC.

The yacht is currently grounded on a rocky area on the western side of Cape Peninsula, roughly halfway between Cape Town and Cape Point.

The team had departed Cape Town earlier that day to start Leg 3 of the Clipper 2017-18 Round the World Yacht Race.

Greenings. Credit: onEdition

There are no reports of any injuries, and skipper Andy Woodruff and the crew are back in Cape Town having been rescued by the National Sea Rescue Institution, the South African equivalent of the RNLI.

In a statement, Clipper Race said: “Everyone is safe and well and there were no injuries reported on board but the skipper (Andy Woodruff, who is acting as interim skipper in place of injured David Hartshorn) and all crew have been evacuated on to rescue boats provided by the NSRI (National Sea Rescue Institute) for precaution to return to shore at Hout Bay.”

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Clipper Race director, Mark Light, and chairman, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, plus members of the maintenance team are en route to assist and remain in constant contact with Woodruff and with the rescue services.

Greenings was in second place overall in the race before the incident happened.

Fellow Clipper team, UNICEF, which was the nearest yacht to Greenings, were initially asked to standby to assist before it was instructed to stand down and continue racing.

This is not the first emergency to hit the Greenings team.

Clipper Race skipper David Hartshorn. Credit: onEdition

Clipper Race skipper David Hartshorn. Credit: onEdition

At the end of August during the opening leg of the race, the yacht’s skipper, David Hartshorn, suffered a serious injury to his left hand which required emergency medical attention.

The 52-year-old British professional sailor damaged his left thumb after it became caught in one of the lines during a spinnaker drop in breezy conditions.

The yacht had to divert to Porto, Portugal, where Hartshorn could receive treatment, while Andy Woodruff took over as interim skipper and continued the voyage to Uruguay.

Greenings is not the first Clipper Round the World Race yacht to run aground. In 2015, LMAX Exchange ran aground around 42 miles off Rio de Janeiro. No one was injured and the yacht was eventually repaired. LMAX Exchange went on to win the overall race.

In January 2010, the Clipper 68 Cork Clipper ran aground on the Gosong Mampango reef in the Java Sea. The crew were evacuated from the yacht, although it was abandoned after it was decided that attempts to salvage her wouldn’t be economical.

The team continued the race in a chartered Challenge 67 yacht, Aurora of London.