Close racing and close encounters of the Orca kind
The Ocean Race Leg 7 from The Hague to Genova
Two of the VO65 boats racing in The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint have had direct encounters with Orcas in the Atlantic Ocean to the west of Gibraltar.
On their approach to Gibraltar, Team JAJO encountered a pod of Orcas which led to a scary moment on board the VO65! Thankfully, the marine mammals, the crew and the boat are unharmed. The Dutch boat skippered by Jelmer van Beek is now back on its way to Genova.
Team JAJO and Mirpuri Trifork Racing have both reported being approached by Orcas around 1450 UTC. The teams subsequently contacted Race Control to confirm there had been no injuries and no damage to their boats, despite the Orcas pushing up against or in at least one case ramming into the boat and nudging or biting at the rudders.
“20 minutes ago we got hit by some Orcas,” said Team JAJO skipper Jelmer van Beek after the incident. “Three Orcas came straight at us and started hitting the rudders. Impressive to see the Orcas, beautiful animals, but also a dangerous moment for us as a team. We took down the sails and slowed down the boat as quickly as possible and luckily after a few attacks they went away. This was a scary moment.”
The area around Gibraltar is becoming well known for what some are calling ‘Orca attacks’ on boats, where an individual or pod of Orcas repeatedly ram into a boat’s hull or rudders. In some cases, boats have been significantly damaged – at least three to the point of sinking.
Scientists are still trying to understand this new behaviour.
The latest news is at www.theoceanrace.com