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Spanish Volvo yacht collides with whale

MADRID – Spanish entry Telefonica Black collided with a whale on the Rio-to-Boston sixth stage of the Volvo round-the-world race, but it suffered no real damage and the yacht was able to continue.

Its sister yacht, Telefonica Blue, meanwhile had a lead of about 40 nautical miles Tuesday over the two Swedish entries, Ericsson 4, the overall race leader, and Ericsson 3.

The incident with the whale occurred overnight Saturday, just hours after the gennaker sheet, or headsail, broke during a squall, skipper Fernando Echavarri said Tuesday.

"We were going full speed, around 21 knots… Suddenly the boat slowed down to eight knots, and at the same time the boat luffed, came head to wind as the impact (with the whale) was on the keel."

After inspecting the boat, the crew found there was no real damage, but Telefonica Black lost about 40 miles on its rivals.

"All onboard love the sea and its animals and it has been a real shock for everybody to hit one of them," Echavarri said.

The crews of the seven yachts have been wary of possible collisions with whales in the Atlantic waters, especially as they approach Boston, where they are expected within about one week at the end of the 4,900-mile sixth stage from Rio de Janeiro.

The Volvo Ocean Race, which began in Alicante, Spain in October, is to conclude in St Petersburg, Russia, in June after nine months negotiating 10 stages over 37,000 nautical miles.

AFP / Expatica