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Clipper Yacht Runs Aground

Wednesday 1 November 2017
Most sailors are familiar with the nighttime Vestas grounding in the last Volvo Ocean Race. This time it is the turn of another round the world race, the Clipper (which is not unfamiliar with groundings), to have one of their yachts running seriously aground in the middle of the night.

Andy Woodruff's new boat Greenings ran aground to the west of the Cape Peninsula at about 20 minutes before midnight the first day of their leg.

The weather was not extreme and thankfully all 18 aboard escaped unharmed with the aid of the NSRI (National Sea Rescue Institute). The state of Greenings is not looking so good. She is partially submerged and the decision has already been taken to withdraw her from the whole race.

So far no information has been released about the cause of the grounding but it is difficult to think of any other reason apart from human error when navigating the yacht. It is all too easy for a navigator to miss a tiny landmass when zoomed out on a chart plotter. It happens to skippers of the largest vessels, be they cruise liners, warships, submarines or oil tankers. In this case the yacht appears to be close to the shoreline so the most likely cause seems to be that they were sailing too ambitious a course than was safe in the darkness.

I am willing to put my hand up and say I know the feeling only too well when you are navigating abroad in unfamiliar waters miles off the coast and you sail dangerously close to an unmarked obstruction that you had not picked up when planning the passage. It is a hollow feeling and one that several of the sailors of Greenings will be sadly familiar with now.