The yacht, which was sailing with the World ARC from Indonesia to the Australian Cocos (Keeling) Islands, struck a submerged object approximately 40nm ENE of the Cocos (Keeling) group. The collision damaged the rudder of the US flagged Sweden Yacht 45, causing significant water ingress.
A PAN-PAN call was picked up by other World ARC yachts in the area, and yachts J’Sea, Spirit of Alcides and Umineko were standing by Ciao just after 0100UT. To reduce the rate of water ingress, Srecko and Olga dropped sails, slowed the boat down and were taken in tow by J’Sea. By 0300UT it appeared that the water ingress was being controlled as the yachts continued slowly toward Cocos.
At 0430UT Srecko reported that the water inside the boat was over the level of the floorboards and at 0445UT the tow line was dropped with Sreco and Olga still on board Ciao and the expectation that they would abandon to a dinghy or liferaft at the last moment. The yacht Zoe was attempting to rendezvous and transfer a high capacity pump across to Ciao, but was still 9nm away.
Sadly Ciao could not be saved and when the foredeck touched the water, Srecko and Olga evacuated from their yacht and transferred safely to Spirit of Alcides at approximate position 11º52S 097º23E. All yachts involved in assisting Ciao are now making their way to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, where they are expected to arrive later today.
World ARC rally control in Cocos Keeling were able to inform the Australian Coastguard (RCC Canberra) via the Cocos Keeling police post soon after the PAN-PAN alert was issued, passing on details of the yacht’s position relayed by the Yellowbrick Iridium tracking devices carried by each rally yacht. The intra-yacht SSB radio net also enabled swift communication between all rally boats on the passage.