Killer whales attack two sailboats off Gibraltar during the Ocean Race

by Lorraine Williamson

MADRID – Two boats of the Ocean Race were attacked by a group of killer whales in the Atlantic Ocean west of Gibraltar around 3.00 pm on Thursday. The Team JAJO and the Mirpuri Trifork Racing team were hit when they were sailing. 

The area where the orcas attacked the boats on Thursday is the same area where attacks on boats have taken place in the past. In some cases, the ships sustained significant damage, almost capsising or even sinking several times. 

The Dutch team JAJO and the Mirpuri Trifork Racing team had this impressive and dangerous encounter with the group of killer whales, which hit the rudders of the boats. 

“Twenty minutes ago we were attacked by a pod of killer whales. Three killer whales came right at us and started banging the rudders. It’s impressive to see the killer whales, beautiful animals, but it was also a dangerous moment for us as a team We took the sails away and reduced the boat’s speed as quickly as possible and luckily they left after a few attacks… It was terrifying,” said Team JAJO skipper Jelmer van Beek. 

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No injuries or property damage 

Fortunately, no injuries or property damage were reported from this encounter with the killer whales, the Ocean Race reports on its website. “There were no injuries or property damage to their boats, despite the orcas crashing into the boats and pushing or biting the rudders,” said the organisers of the around-the-world yacht race. The incident lasted around fifteen minutes. 

The boats of the Ocean Race are currently in the last of the 7 legs of the sailing race around the world, a leg of 2,200 nautical miles between The Hague and Genoa. The Ocean Race already experienced another dangerous moment a few days ago when the GUYOT rammed the 11th Hour Racing Team at the start of the last leg. 

Dropped two places 

The Dutch sailing team JAJO was second in the stage from The Hague to Genoa at the time of the attack by the three orcas. After the attack, it dropped to fourth place. “Hopefully we can make up for the backlog,” said Van Beek. 

Also read: Orca attacks on boats in Spain explained by international experts 

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