A heart-stopping encounter unfolded near the Strait of Gibraltar during the Ocean Race, as a pod of orcas launched an attack on the boats.
Team JAJO, one of the participating crews, experienced several intense minutes when their vessel came under assault from the orcas. Video footage captured the alarming incident, showing the killer whales encircling the Dutch yacht before swiftly accelerating towards it. The orcas rammed into the boat and targeted the rudders, while the crew desperately banged on the hull in an effort to deter the aggressive marine mammals.
Skipper Jelmer van Beek of Team JAJO described the incident as a terrifying moment. Three orcas directly approached their boat, relentlessly striking the rudders. While van Beek acknowledged the beauty of these impressive creatures, he emphasized the danger they posed to the team. Responding swiftly, the crew took down the sails and reduced the boat’s speed to minimize the threat. Fortunately, after a series of attacks, the orcas eventually retreated.
Organizers confirmed that another team, Mirpuri/Trifork Racing from Portugal, also encountered orcas during the race. Fortunately, no injuries or damages were reported in either incident.
The attack by orcas on the participating sailboats near Gibraltar has brought attention to the unpredictable nature of marine encounters. These incidents serve as a reminder of the potential risks faced by sailors in open waters. While orcas are majestic creatures known for their intelligence, their behaviour can be unpredictable, especially when they feel threatened or are protecting their territory.
The Ocean Race, a renowned global sailing competition, draws participants from around the world. The race entails navigating challenging waters, and testing the skills and resilience of the crews. However, encounters with marine wildlife, such as the recent orca attacks, highlight the need for sailors to be prepared for unexpected scenarios and to prioritize safety measures.
As the race continues, participants and organizers remain vigilant, taking precautions to ensure the well-being of the crews and to minimize potential conflicts with marine life.