Team Vestas Hitting Reef

There was a discussion on her about an ocean racing yacht hitting a reef in broad daylight because they had zoomed to a scale that tuned it off the chart.

gcaptain featured it way back when.

they were using pleasureboat toy software to do routing…some hide stuff some dont.
2 other boats just missed as they had xtrack errors

My recollection is that the reef didn’t appear because they were zoomed out on too large an area. At least one other navigator in the same race made the same mistake and the crew managed to alter their course in time to avoid disaster. Fortunate that nobody died.
Vestas Wind had two laptop nav stations: one for weather and routing and the other for performance assessment and navigation. The former ran Adrena software and World Map Coverage of the entire world. The latter ran Expedition software which runs on Windows. Several VOR crews complained that they had to be careful about overburdening the computers and crashing the systems. The systems were considered good, but not the best.

1 Like

Here’s the accident report -

“Contributing factors were:
ď‚· deficient use of electronic charts and other navigational data and a failure to identify
the potential danger, and
ď‚· deficient cartography in presenting the navigational dangers on small and medium
scale (or zoomed out) views on the electronic chart system in use.”

Note : In talking to the race organization, paper charts were required onboard, but were not in use.

The organisers changed the route at the last minute so I can imagine there was no time for planning the new route,of course if they had done route planning on a proper ECDIS the issue would of been flagged

Or if they had just zoomed in and out :roll_eyes:

sure but not easy with just miles of ocean on a plotter, thats why it all happened

The navigator was not some random drunk recruited from the yacht club bar, he was a professional getting paid way more than I ever do to navigate a boat. He should have known his gear and how to use it.


other boats made same mistake the unlucky one just happened to be on the rhumb line

Nothing stopping them from having route alarms if they wanted them, my ancient cockpit plotter will squawk if you try and plot a course through an obstacle or shallow water. I guess they all figured they paid enough to have the human do it.

The gear they were using was not good enough and hid objects as you zoomed out, some plotters do that some dont.
Thats why pleasureboat plottters say not to be used for navigation

Vector charts are easy targets for blame. First, for general use in what is called ECS (electronic charting systems) there are no real standards in functionality and chart symbols, as opposed to ECDIS use (electronic chart display and information system, pronounced ek-dis) the professional system sanctioned by the International Hydrographic Organization. Sailors and other recreational mariners, however, do not often use official ECDIS software or charts. We use mostly ECS, which means simply any combination of echarts and software we might have

Saying “If the navigator had zoomed out the grounding would have been prevented” seems 100% true and unassailable, can’t argue with the logic. . The issue is that using hindsight to analyze after the fact is dealing with near certainties. Planning ahead before on the other hand is dealing with probabilities.

In this case we now know that if the planning is changed at the last minute about 30% of the boats will mistakenly turn towards the reef (2 out of 7 or 28.6%). Out of that 30% half will go aground and be destroyed on the reef.

Good planning can reduce those odds. On the other hand how likely is it that the navigator will randomly decide to zoom in?

According to Charles Perrow how we act in any particular circumstances depends upon what we expect to happen.

“We construct an expected world because we can’t handle the complexity of the present one, and then process the information that fits the expected world, and find reasons to exclude the information that might contradict it. Unexpected or unlikely interactions are ignored when we make our construction.”

The person on watch who knows what to expect is far more likely to take proper action. This is where planning comes in.

1 Like

I chatted with one skipper who just missed and he said as far as he knew they all made the same oversight just one boat was unlucky

This incident was discussed on this thread:

Same discussion, navigator shoulda avoided the reef.

Pointing out the the race cannot be won if the boat runs onto a reef and destroyed is both true and a completely trivial observation.

I wonder if this is an age thing. I came up doing stuff like crossing an RDF bearing with a depth contour, back in the day one was NEVER 100% sure you were where you thought you were unless you had visual bearings on a lighthouse or something.
I still do things like run split-screen to have the wide 20-40 mile or more view and then right around the boat, sanity checks on courses and distances, comparing the depth finder to the chart, etc. etc.
One lesson that stuck with me was from one of my CFI renewal clinics, an American Airlines crew (IIRC) entered a waypoint and through some combination of fat-fingering and similar designations, ended up with one several countries away from where they thought they were going. Sadly the resulting course took them into a mountain :frowning: A little sanity check - hey A and B should be 500 miles apart, not 2500, would have helped.

Here is a similar grounding caused by over reliance on ECDIS.

The key point in both cases is that watchstanders expect that the planned track is safe. Expecting watchstanders to correct an error in a planned track in real time, especially at night, is a very bad bet.

This is true no matter how obvious the error seems in hindsight.

After an incident, when the outcome is clear, there is a tendency to point to the person that could have changed the outcome who is closest to the event in both time and distance.

1 Like