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So you want to race? All you need to know to get into the game

"Start small,” says naval architect Malcolm McKeon . “Superyacht racing is not like anything most owners have experienced before.”

McKeon speaks from recent experience. “When we were designing and building the performance cruiser Missy , I asked the owner several times if he was sure he didn’t want me to arrange the deck for racing. His answer was always ‘I’m not going to race Missy ,’” he recalls. “Then he saw a Bucket-type regatta and decided ‘That looks like fun.’ He followed my advice: start small and get a taste for it. We raced Missy in the 2018 St Barths Bucket in the non-spinnaker division and he won. For 2019 he’s added a bolt-on bowsprit, a few spinnakers to improve downwind performance and hired more pros.”

Dutch naval architect  Andre Hoek  has worked with very similar owners. “Many of our superyacht owners actually said they would never race but end up doing it anyway,” he says. “My advice would be to have some sailing miles on the boat before you start racing and begin with the second year of ownership, not the first.”

For owners contemplating building a new yacht, Hoek advises designing the boat with an option to race from day one simply because he’s had a number of projects where owners changed their minds after the boat was built and decided to race full-on. “We advise clients to at least lay out the sail and deck plan for racing.”

Several experts pointed to a significant recent change for superyacht regattas: the handicapping system has been altered to even up the playing field, add safety factors and reduce the number of crew and sails needed by including a non-spinnaker class. As McKeon says: “It used to be that a 500-tonne yacht like Twizzle could do no better than middle of the fleet – even if she was sailed perfectly – racing against boats with deep keels and retractable sail drives. The new handicapping system puts a fair penalty on those features so that almost everyone has a chance.”

Hap Fauth, who owns racing and cruising boats, took part in the Newport and St Barths Bucket regattas with his 35.3-metre Whisper from 2003 to 2010. He stopped because he thought the handicapping system didn’t seem to understand luxury yachts. “These big displacement boats will have the same top speed if the wind is blowing 12 or 20. I realised I could spend $100,000 [£77,000] to campaign the boat with the best crew and still end up 23rd out of 35 boats. They fixed the handicap and we went back to St Barths for the Bucket in 2018.”

Recruiting rock stars

Drop in on any superyacht regatta and you’ll note some high-profile professional sailors with well-earned star status based on their expertise as a designer, rigger, sailmaker or veteran of many racing events. They often have key positions as navigators, tacticians, crew bosses or helmsmen. These men and women made and maintain their reputations, and their pay scales, by doing their part to make the programme successful, whether that is learning the race course and studying charts or learning the boat and its gear and the abilities of the rest of the crew. Far from being someone who is just here for the beer, a professional sailor works between 200 and 250 days a year. But is hiring a couple of rock stars and building a regatta team around them the way to go? “Before spending an owner’s money on a pro race crew, you have to get to the details,” says Ken Read, president of North Sails. “You really have to listen carefully when you ask an owner what he wants to get out of the event.

“I have a database of sailors for all the positions, including assistants to all those positions, and I classify them as amateurs or pros. But before I start picking, I go old-school; I draw the boat’s deck layout, including all winches, and I put circles where you need people to work. I look at the skill levels needed in each of those circles. Then, what members of the crew can I draw on? Some captains don’t want a specific position because they want to be able to move around putting out fires. Some captains came out of powerboats and don’t know how to race. My job is to get them to be honest about their abilities and comfort level and those of their crew.”

The next part is chemistry, Read says. “You want them to have a blast. You want the entire group to feel it’s the best day or set of days they have had because the group is just right. You don’t want to put a tough, hard-ass pro with an owner who would rather just have fun. Some pros see winning a regatta as a notch on their belt. There’s a place for that guy, but it might not be with an owner just starting out.”

According to Bruce Brakenhoff, president of Perini Navi USA , a regular full-time crew is key. “They know their boat, they maintain it and tune it,” he says. “They communicate to the race guys what can or cannot be done, how far their boat can or should be pushed.

“The idea of a rock star aboard is fun, but in my experience the most successful boats seem to have permanent crews who sail their boat often and know its sailing systems really well. These are the guys who really gel with a race crew that joins them for a week or two.” Fauth calls his boat’s five permanent crew “the backbone of the team. We aren’t a push-button boat with captive winches so it takes 15 to race,” he says. He plans his regatta crew around his selection for navigator, tactician and a crew boss who manages assignments and gets the boat set up for each race. Fauth takes the helm and Whisper’s captain floats to give an assist where needed.

The Js are unique

The J Class is a different animal altogether. Dan Jackson, who ran Ranger’s programme for the late John Williams, says: “ Ranger had eight permanent crew and raced with a full complement of around 35, including guests. Generally, we had 15 to 17 professionals. Js tend to try and keep the same crew at least for the season and, where possible, year on year. Ranger had a core race crew that rarely changed – we just added to it from available sailors as necessary. Keeping the team together reduces the amount of practice time needed before a regatta and therefore an owner’s expenses.”

Depending on the boat, the owner’s goals for the regatta and whether the boat is sailing in a spinnaker or non-spinnaker class, expect racing crew to double or triple the yacht’s regular crew complement, says Peter Wilson of management firm MCM . “When an owner says he wants to race, we want to make sure it’s a really good experience and picking the extra crew is critical. Most expert racers aren’t superyacht crew and most superyacht crew aren’t racers, but we find they really like learning from the pros.” Wilson often puts pros on the bow “because dropping a spinnaker while a jib is being raised or unfurled and the helmsman is rounding a mark isn’t something superyacht crew tend to experience”.

Wilson says he builds a spreadsheet of positions that need to be filled with the associated costs to build a budget for his clients and then adds in the non-personnel items such as transportation of the boat, dockage, spare parts, food and entertainment budgets and extra insurance riders. While Fauth says he often turns to his vendors for race crew, Wally founder Luca Bassani and Wally Class secretary Paolo Massarini both say they feel that the pro sailors who work for vendors should have their fees paid by their employers. “Their fees should be covered by the brand they are representing, but it is different from time to time. There is no fixed rule,” said Massarini.

Organising a regatta programme

“On the boats we manage,” says Wilson, “we try to lock in our team six months in advance for summer regattas. For something like the Antigua Superyacht Challenge [in January], there is not so much competition for crew so we can start later. Accommodation, on the other hand, you want to book as early as possible.”

While most superyachts take part in just one or two regattas a year, and hire race crew by the event, the more performance-oriented yachts, and tight-knit Wally classes may do four. Bassani says it is his preference, and his advice to owners, to book the pros for the season. “I hire people for the whole season of races and sea trials. In this way [they] have the chance to get to know your boat better, to prepare the boat better and to achieve better results.” Massarini says another reason for contracting with the racing crew for the entire season is to make crew members loyal to the project.

Choosing a Wally’s race crew begins with the two or three most experienced permanent crew deciding what positions can be filled internally and then hiring a crew boss, Bassani calls it a head hunter, to recruit the other spots. The need for shore support and logistics obviously increases with the number of races the owner wants to do and perhaps with the distance from his home port, but Bassani cautions that regular crew shouldn’t be saddled with that responsibility.

Get a Den Mother

The bigger the boat, the more complicated the job. If they don’t have full-time professional management, most regatta entrants will liaise with a “Den Mother”. Brakenhoff suggested two such women who manage logistics for racing yachts, Polly Baptist and Nikki Smith. Both are former superyacht crew well versed in regattas. Baptist is now a sports nutritionist and Smith’s firm, Sailutions, provides shore support for yachts.

Both say arranging nearby accommodation for 20 to 30 crew, owners and guests, and then organising who goes where, is the most time-consuming task. Booking accommodation and shipping containers to move a yacht’s racing sails and spares needs to start well in advance – as much as a season ahead is typical. “Three months’ notice is doable,” Smith says, “but it will cost more. Once I had to rent a trimaran to sleep the crew because it was the only thing with enough berths close to the race venue.”

Finding someone to repair a torn spinnaker sock overnight, replacing lost contact lenses and booking restaurants and catering are typical assignments. “Depending on what service is needed I work with different crew within the team,” says Smith. “I mainly work with captains and race team managers on the more costly aspects of the planning; the stewardess and chief stewardess on more everyday items.” Smith charges either an hourly rate or a flat fee for the regatta, depending on services booked. A percentage charged on accommodation – like a travel agency – is often offset by the discounts she is able to arrange for her frequent bookings.

Baptist, a sail trimmer in Saudade ’s crew when it races in the Med, also cooks for her charges to make sure they have nourishing food as well as juices and smoothies. Her perfect timeframe is to start eight months in advance of a regatta as she helps with crew selection as well on some of the yachts she works for. “Owners new to the race scene need to be made aware that a lot goes on behind the scenes to make sure not only is their yacht in top shape, but also they have a great team on board who are ready to race each day. The permanent crew do a great job prepping the boat and some of the race crew fly in earlier than the rest [to set it up] and we stay later to help change the boat back to cruising/guest mode when it’s over. We are all there to make sure the owners have a fantastic time racing. It is a very prestigious thing for owners to be sailing their stunning yachts against others in beautiful parts of the world,” Baptist said.

It’s not just about race days Brakenhoff has been racing for about 30 years and advises: “Bucket planning for a 50-metre Perini with a total race-day crew of 22-plus should include at least one day of set-up, three days of practice, and one last day of final tweaks and prep at the dock for the three-day regatta.” That’s the same schedule used by Fauth, who also owns a series of racing yachts named Bella Mente that he campaigns on the grand prix circuit, the latest being a Maxi 72 designed by Botin Partners. He’s brought Whisper to quite a few Buckets, and says he runs its regatta programme much like that of his serious race boat – with one exception: “Instead of watching a video of our performance after each race the way we do with Bella Mente we might have a crew party. Superyacht regattas tend to start at noon. With the race boat programme, the guys are up running or at the gym at 7am.

“One of the reasons amateurs have such a hard time is because they can’t take the time out to practise,” continues Fauth. Most superyachts take part in just one or two regattas a year, while a racing boat will compete in six or more regattas, often moving the boat significant distances between each venue. “That is easily a 12-week commitment,” says Fauth, who is one of the backers of American Magic , a US challenger for the 2021 America’s Cup in New Zealand. Bassani likes to schedule two or three “long weekend” practices before regatta season begins and two days of practice before each event. And because he’s the boat builder, he’s privy to some rather important information.

“We have all the detailed reports of the performances of the boat after each sea trial and each race. It’s good to share all this information with the crew each day to make everybody more involved in the results of the boat. And this report can be very detailed and must be discussed on each of those details, like for each tack, each jibe, each hoist and so on.”

“Here’s what I think keeps some owners from trying racing,” says Read. “Superyacht owners are uber-successful people, they are confident and tend to have a take-no-prisoners ego about business. Someone like that might shy away from a situation where they might not win… and some superyacht events are becoming too competitive. Creating cruising or non-spinnaker divisions and pursuit starts are the way to go. Let’s ease people into it. If they want to get super competitive at a later date, they can, but at least they can say they’ve had fun along the way, made friends and sailed their boats in beautiful places.”

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4 World-Class Yacht Races That’ll Put Your Sailing Skills to the Ultimate Test

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French skipper Thomas Ruyant on LinkedOut yacht

Sailing around the world has been a dream for both weekend warriors and armchair sailors alike. While three of the races below are for professionals, the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race welcomes anyone to see what life on board an offshore racing yacht is like. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those who haven’t spent their lives sailing professionally. If you’d rather follow virtually, the three others below will have comprehensive coverage during the highlights of each event, including live-cam coverage on board.

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Clipper Round the World Yacht Race: August 2023 to July 2024

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SuperyachtNews

By SuperyachtNews 22 Sep 2023

Superyacht racing returns to New Zealand

The new zealand millennium cup announces a number of new entries set to join the 2024 edition….

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One of the world's most iconic, and southern, superyacht sailing regattas is returning with new entrants in 2024. Brand new to the racing is 60 metre Perini Navi, Perseus^3, with race watchers excited to see her unique features - including the tallest carbon fibre mast built and extensive sail area - put to use on the Auckland race course.

“Perseus^3 was built to race specification and we’ve enjoyed building her reputation on the course across the world’s great superyacht regattas. With a race crew which has become known for its spirit and camaraderie, we’re looking forward to bringing Perseus^3 to New Zealand’s waters and letting her show her ability during the New Zealand Millennium Cup,” says Burger van der Walt, captain of Perseus^3.

It will join other early entries to the race including Royal Huisman’s Sassafras, the crew of which is competing after the regatta’s two-year hiatus.

“The team on Sassafras is excited at the prospect of racing in the New Zealand Millennium Cup after a two-year hiatus. The Waitemata Harbour and Hauraki Gulf offer a world-class sailing venue, with the backdrop of the City of Sails, home of the holder of the America’s Cup. We look forward to competing with visiting yachts and crews, to make the New Zealand Millennium Cup 2024 the best yet,” says Matt Lovett, captain of S/Y Sassafras.  

Joining the race for the first time will be a fleet of multihulls. With a resurgence of cruising activity in the South Pacific, and growing numbers of the superyacht fleet forecast to arrive in the next seasons, this multihull class is set to offer a new aspect to the regatta’s racing with strong interest from Kiwi owners.

The regatta will take place from 23 to 26 February 2024 and will be raced on Auckland’s waters for the first time since 2013. It will form part of 2024’s inaugural Moana Auckland Festival; a celebration of the integral role of the sea in Auckland’s cultural and economic life.

The entry form and notice of race are available online now at millenniumcup.com. The regatta is comprised of New Zealand Millennium Cup, Multihull, and Corinthian divisions, with the role of principal race officer filled by Harold Bennett.

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Practical Boat Owner

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Home-built 5.8m yachts to race across the Atlantic in the Globe 5.80 Transat

Katy Stickland

  • Katy Stickland
  • October 26, 2023

The second edition of the Globe 5.80 Transat will start from Lanzarote, and will see skippers racing home-built 5.8m plywood yachts across the Atlantic

A Class 5.80 boat being sailed out to sea by a man wearing a black cap, tshirt and trousers

The Class 5.80, Trekka - hull number one - being sailed by race founder, Don McIntyre. The boat will be sailed by Ertan Beskardes in the Globe 5.80 Transat. Credit: Ocean Frontiers OGR/ GGR/CG580 Credit: Ocean Frontiers OGR/ GGR/CG580

The Globe 5.80 Transat, a 3,500-mile race across the Atlantic in home-built plywood 5.8m/19ft boats , will begin next month.

This is the second time the race has been run, and five entries are confirmed: Niels Kamphuis (NED), Michael Moyer (USA), Jack Johnson (USA), Keith Oliver (GBR) and Ertan Beşkardeş (GBR).

A man sailing a small boat out to sea

Ertan Beskardes sailing Trekka . The Turkish-British sailor has plenty of race preparation experience, having competed in the 2018 and 2022 Golden Globe Race. Credit: Ertan Beskardes/Ocean Frontiers OGR/GGR/CG580

All the entrants have to sail a five to six-day qualifying voyage from Lagos, Portugal to Rubicon Marina in Lanzarote ahead of the race start.

A former 2018 and 2022 Golden Globe Race skipper, Beskardes is sailing the 5.80 Class prototype, Trekka , which belonged to the race founder, Don McIntyre.

See a video of the inside of Trekka below.

Beskardes has already sailed Trekka from Les Sables d’Olonne in France, across the Bay of Biscay and south towards Lagos, Portugal. He has already provisionally entered the 2025 Mini Globe Race .

This is a solo race around the world in Class Globe 5.80 boats in stages, and the Globe 5.80 Transat is the first of two qualifying solo-transat races for the event.

A Class 5.80 boat with a blue hull on a craddle

Keith Oliver began building his Class 5.80 in February 2022. Credit: Keith Oliver/Ocean Frontiers OGR/ GGR/CG580

Fellow British skipper, Keith Oliver is facing time pressures to make the start of the Transat.

He has only just finished building his 5.80, Meraki (Hull No. 178) , and is currently carrying out sea trials; he has just weeks to make sure all the systems on board are running smoothly and make Lagos by 12 November. He will be trailering his 5.80 from his home in Chichester to Portugal.

Meanwhile, both American entrants are shipping their 5.80s from the US to Lagos.

A small yellow Class 5.80 boat being prepared for the Globe 5.80 Transat

Michael Moyer on Sunbear with friends, family and rival skipper, Jack Johnson. Credit: Michael Moyer/ Ocean Frontiers OGR/ GGR/CG580

A US Coast Guard Licensed Captain, Michael Moyer has sailed over 74,000nm, 8,000 singlehanded.

He will be sailing Sunbear (Hull No. 079). He had hoped to compete in the inaugural Globe 5.80 Transat, but the yacht wasn’t finished in time.

Moyer, who is from Newport Beach, said: “I have been waiting almost three years for this great adventure, let’s go already!”

Continues below…

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Around the world in a 5.8m boat! Meet the sailor preparing to race a Class Globe 5.80

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Jack Johnson has been sailing all of his life and said he enjoyed building his 5.80, Right Now (Hull No. 113) .

The Californian sailor, who has over 10,000nm under his belt, 500nm solo, has entered the Globe 5.80 Transat to “test himself with a challenging solo sailing event.”

Dutch skipper Niels Kamphuis has always dreamed of completing a transatlantic crossing.

Niels Kamphuis crossing the Bay of Biscay in Biggest Monkey ahead of the start of the Niels Kamphuis

Niels Kamphuis crossing the Bay of Biscay in Biggest Monkey ahead of the start of the Niels Kamphuis. Credit: Niels Kamphuis/Ocean Frontiers OGR/ GGR/CG580

He has spent one-and-a-half years building his boat, Biggest Monkey (Hull No. 163), and has already sailed it solo from Brest to Lagos for the start.

“The Class Globe 5.80 is a very interesting, affordable and fun boat to build. I’ve sailed all my life but this experience was still on the bucket list,” said Kamphus.

The Globe 5.80 Transat will start on Saturday, 25 November from Lanzarote, with the first arrivals at Falmouth Bay, Antigua expected just before Christmas.

Lutz Kohne, who was in charge of the inaugural 2021 Globe 580 Transat, continues as Race Director for the coming edition.

He has just returned from his own solo Atlantic crossing to qualify for the Golden Globe Race 2026.

Enjoyed reading Home built 5.8m yachts in race across the Atlantic in the Globe 5.80 Transat?

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RORC North Sea Race | Extra Djinn Triumph

Start of the RORC North Sea Race 2024 © RHYC Vice Commodore Mark Dean. The Royal Ocean Racing Club’s North Sea Race is hosted by the Royal Harwich Yacht Club in association with the East Anglian Offshore Racing Association, the Yacht Club Scheveningen and the North Sea Regatta.

RORC North Sea Race

Start: Friday 10 May, 2024

Harwich – Scheveningen (148nm)

The Royal Ocean Racing Club’s North Sea Race is hosted by the Royal Harwich Yacht Club in association with the East Anglian Offshore Racing Association, the Yacht Club Scheveningen and the North Sea Regatta.

The RORC North Sea Race dates back almost 80 years, the 2024 edition had 53 boats racing from Harwich to Scheveningen. The overall winner under IRC was Michel Dorsman’s X-362 Extra Djinn, second was J/122 Ajeto! raced double handed by Robin Verhoef & John van der Starre. Third overall was Willem Ellemeet’s Dufour 40 Flying Dolphin.

Congratulations to all of the Class Winners including Frederic de Visser’s VO65 NextGen, Ker 46 ROST Van Uden, skippered by Gerd-jan Poortman, Otto Waterlander’s Swan 45 Emotions, and Will & Jenny Taylor-Jones S&S 40 Sunstone.

2024 North Sea Race Results

The RORC Race Team set a course of approximately 148 nautical miles for the North Sea Race via Smith’s Knoll Buoy. The start was delayed by one hour waiting for the wind to stabilize. The vast majority of the race was held in a cold easterly gradient breeze, upwind in foggy conditions across the North Sea. Thankfully the sun shone for the prize giving at the Yacht Club Scheveningen!

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The overall winner under IRC, Michel Dorsman’s Extra Djinn, says victory came as a very pleasant surprise. “It’s a young team and most of us have been sailing together for just a few years now, so winning the North Sea Race is fantastic!” commented Michel. “We started well, but after we rounded Smith Knoll the fog was pretty thick. We didn’t know how we were doing against the other boats and steering was difficult in low visibility. The team did very well to keep us on course. This has been a great start to our season, as last month, some of the team won class at the St Maarten Heineken Regatta. We will definitely be celebrating with a cold beer after the prize giving in Scheveningen!”

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Last year’s overall winner was runner-up this year. J/122 Ajeto! raced by Robin Verhoef & John van der Starre also won IRC Two and IRC Two-handed. “We got to the start early to check the current and found a big gain in shallow water, that worked out perfectly,” said John van der Starre. “We had a good lead at the first mark and that makes it easier because we were free to make our own decisions. The forecast was not always correct, but we could see the faster boats on AIS, so we could adjust our own course to stay on the right side of shifts. Across the North Sea we had up to 15 knots of wind and Ajeto! goes very well in that. Well done to Extra Djinn, they sailed really well and made some very good decisions.”

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The Rotterdam Offshore Sailing Team (ROST) are young sailors racing Ker 46 ROST Van Uden, skippered by Volvo Ocean Race veteran Gerd-jan Poortman, they have an exciting race programme over the next two years. For the North Sea Race, ROST Van Uden won IRC Zero and was second across the line to VO65 NextGen, which took Line Honours.

“We pretty much won the start and we are happy with the performance, we had a good race,” commented Poortman. “About 95% of the track was upwind and our boat’s IRC rating takes in how fast we are downwind, so it was difficult to sail to our rating. We didn’t have many options but we sailed well, the boat was up to speed and sail changes were fine. This is the first big event of the year, next will be the inshore North Sea Regatta. After that, ROST Van Uden will sail to Cowes for the Round the Island Race, Cowes Week and the RORC Vice Admiral’s Cup. We have a nice season for 2024, which is all part of our build up to the 2025 Admiral’s Cup.” Concluded Poortman.

The RORC Season’s Points Championship continues with the De Guingand Bowl Race starting from Cowes on May 18 th . The flexi-course of about 110 nautical miles will start and finish  in The Solent. The De Guingand Bowl Race is also the first race of the 2024 IRC Two-Handed National Championship.

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Underwater image of orca next to a boat's rudder

Yacht sinks after latest incident involving orcas in strait of Gibraltar

Vessel measuring 15 metres in length sank after encounter with the animals, Spain’s maritime rescue service reports

An unknown number of orcas have sunk a yacht after ramming it in Moroccan waters in the strait of Gibraltar, Spain’s maritime rescue service has said, in the latest in a series of similar incidents involving the animals.

The vessel, Alboran Cognac, which measured 15 metres (49ft) in length and carried two people, encountered the highly social apex predators, also known as killer whales, at 9am local time on Sunday.

The passengers reported feeling sudden blows to the hull and rudder before the boat started taking on water. After alerting the rescue services, a nearby oil tanker took them onboard and transported them to Gibraltar. The yacht was left adrift and eventually sank.

The incident is the latest example of recurring orca rammings around the Gibraltar strait that separates Europe from Africa and off the Atlantic coast of Portugal and north-western Spain. Experts believe them to involve a subpopulation of about 15 individuals given the designation “Gladis”.

According to the research group GT Atlantic Orca, which tracks populations of the Iberian orca sub-species, there have been nearly 700 interactions since orca attacks on ships in the region were first reported in May 2020.

Researchers are unsure about the causes for the behaviour, but theories include that it is a playful manifestation of the mammals’ curiosity, a social fad or the intentional targeting of what they perceive as competitors for their favourite prey, the local bluefin tuna.

Although known as killer whales, endangered orcas are part of the dolphin family. They can measure up to 8 metres in length and weigh up to 6 tonnes as adults.

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Pod of killer whales attacks and sinks 50-foot yacht in Strait of Gibraltar

The Strait of Gibraltar connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea.

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A pod of killer whales attacked and sunk a yacht in the Strait of Gibraltar, between Spain and Morocco, officials confirmed to ABC News.

Two people were on board the vessel when the incident occurred Sunday at 9 a.m. local time, according to Spain's maritime authority.

The nearly 50-foot yacht, named The Alboran Cognac, was 15 miles from Cabo Espartel in Morocco when an unknown number of orcas began ramming it.

The couple alerted Spanish authorities and a rescue team arrived to extricate them from the vessel an hour after the attack, though officials were unable to salvage the sinking boat.

There have been approximately 700 orca attacks since 2020, according to GT Orca Atlantica, a conservation group, and officials believe there are more than 37 orcas in the Strait of Gibraltar.

The Strait of Gibraltar connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, separating Europe from Africa.

"During the summer and autumn of 2020, interaction events began to occur between several specimens of this species and vessels, mainly sailboats, both in the Strait of Gibraltar and in the waters of the Galician coast," according to Spanish government officials. "These interactions have ranged from persistent approaches to ships, to ramming the hull and rudder, causing various types of damage, which continue today."

It's unclear why orcas attack boats, though experts hypothesize the marine mammals could be targeting vessels for sport or they feel threatened.

According to a study in Biological Conservation, a peer-reviewed journal, "sophisticated learning abilities" have been found to exist in orcas.

In June 2023, racing yachts in the Strait of Gibraltar had a close encounter with a pod of orcas, race officials said at the time.

Crew members aboard a rival pair of 65-foot yachts were on the final leg of The Ocean Race, a global sailing competition, when they reported being intercepted by killer whales as their boats approached the Strait of Gibraltar.

No fatalities were reported in the incident, according to officials.

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Killer whales attack and sink sailing yacht in the Strait of Gibraltar — again

By Emily Mae Czachor

Updated on: May 14, 2024 / 4:54 PM EDT / CBS News

A sailing yacht sunk in the Strait of Gibraltar on Sunday after an unknown number of orcas  slammed into the vessel with two people on board and caused a water leak, officials said. Both crew members were rescued by a passing oil tanker, said Spain's maritime rescue service, marking the latest killer whale attack on a boat in what has become a pattern in recent years.

The incident happened at around 9 a.m. local time in the narrow strait between Spain and Morocco that has become a notorious site of human interactions with pods of killer whales that, for reasons still not fully understood, ram into boats and at times even sink them . In this case, crew members on board the SV Alboran Cognac yacht put out an emergency call for an evacuation after they encountered orcas roughly 14 miles off the coast of Cape Spartel. 

The crew members reported feeling blows to the hull of the vessel and rudder, which was damaged by the whales, the rescue service said. The agency's coordination center in Tarifa, on the Spanish side of the Strait of Gibraltar, helped arrange for their evacuation via the tanker MT Lascaux. The tanker was able to collect the crew members from the sinking yacht within the hour, and they disembarked in Gibraltar before 10:30 a.m. They abandoned the SV Alboran Cognac, which proceeded to completely disappear into the ocean.

Anyone sailing through waters from the Gulf of Cádiz in southern Spain and the Strait of Gibraltar, either in a larger motorized vessel or a personal sailing boat, is advised to avoid certain areas that the maritime rescue service marks as potentially dangerous spots for orca interactions. The greatest threats exist between May and August, when officials say that pods of killer whales are most commonly seen in those parts of the Atlantic. 

orca-interactions-maritime-rescue.jpg

But previously recorded incidents suggest those dangers may be present at any time. Last October, a Polish boat touring company reported that a pod of orcas had managed to sink one of its yachts after repeatedly slamming into the steering fin for 45 minutes, causing it to leak. Last June, two sailing teams competing in an international race around the world reported frightening scenarios in which multiple orcas rammed into or pushed up against their boats or as they sailed west of Gibraltar. 

No one on board any of the vessels was hurt in those encounters, but the documented rise in confrontational behavior has researchers and sailors trying to determine why orcase have attempted to sink or capsize so many boats off the coasts of Spain and Portugal. 

Some sailors have even resorted to blasting thrash metal music in a bid to deter the apex predators.

Reports of orcas interacting with humans have more than tripled in the last two years or so, according to the research group GTOA, which has documented hundreds of such incidents in the region since 2020. But some of the latest data points to possible changes in the orcas' etiquette, with the group reporting only 26 interactions in the Strait of Gibraltar and Bay of Biscay areas between January and May of this year. That number is 65% lower than the number of interactions recorded in the region over the same months last year, and 40% lower than the average number of interactions recorded in the same months between 2021 and 2023, according to GTOA.

  • Boat Accident

Emily Mae Czachor is a reporter and news editor at CBSNews.com. She covers breaking news, often focusing on crime and extreme weather. Emily Mae has previously written for outlets including the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed and Newsweek.

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Pod of killer whales attacks and sinks 50-foot yacht in Strait of Gibraltar

The Strait of Gibraltar connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea.

A pod of killer whales attacked and sunk a yacht in the Strait of Gibraltar, between Spain and Morocco, officials confirmed to ABC News.

Two people were on board the vessel when the incident occurred Sunday at 9 a.m. local time, according to Spain's maritime authority.

The nearly 50-foot yacht, named The Alboran Cognac, was 15 miles from Cabo Espartel in Morocco when an unknown number of orcas began ramming it.

MORE: Killer whales learn 'coordinated' attacks on sailboats, some observers say

The couple alerted Spanish authorities and a rescue team arrived to extricate them from the vessel an hour after the attack, though officials were unable to salvage the sinking boat.

There have been approximately 700 orca attacks since 2020, according to GT Orca Atlantica, a conservation group, and officials believe there are more than 37 orcas in the Strait of Gibraltar.

PHOTO: An Aerial view of Gibraltar rock seen from the neighbouring Spanish city of La Linea, Oct. 17, 2019.

The Strait of Gibraltar connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea, separating Europe from Africa.

"During the summer and autumn of 2020, interaction events began to occur between several specimens of this species and vessels, mainly sailboats, both in the Strait of Gibraltar and in the waters of the Galician coast," according to Spanish government officials. "These interactions have ranged from persistent approaches to ships, to ramming the hull and rudder, causing various types of damage, which continue today."

PHOTO: Orca breaching off the San Juan Islands.

It's unclear why orcas attack boats, though experts hypothesize the marine mammals could be targeting vessels for sport or they feel threatened.

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According to a study in Biological Conservation , a peer-reviewed journal, "sophisticated learning abilities" have been found to exist in orcas.

In June 2023, racing yachts in the Strait of Gibraltar had a close encounter with a pod of orcas, race officials said at the time.

Crew members aboard a rival pair of 65-foot yachts were on the final leg of The Ocean Race, a global sailing competition, when they reported being intercepted by killer whales as their boats approached the Strait of Gibraltar.

No fatalities were reported in the incident, according to officials.

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Race to Erase Raises $1.5 Million for MS Research With the Help of Natasha Bedingfield, A Great Big World and Caroline Rhea

By Nicholas White

Nicholas White

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Natasha Bedingfield

Hollywood’s support for Race to Erase MS kept rolling into its 31st year Friday at the Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles, helping the Nancy Davis -led charity raise $1.5 million to multiple sclerosis research.

The night’s headlining musical act, Natasha Bedingfield , played a medley of hers and others’ songs, including her 2000s-era hit “Unwritten,” which was recently given a new life in “Anyone but You,” and Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me,” which she sang alongside Davis and friends. Bedingfield was introduced by Casey Affleck.

Popular on Variety

King said he has experienced physical differences in recent years, including walking and, most recently, using his voice.

“This is going to be one of the first times that me and Ian [Axel] have performed together in a very long time,” King, who walks with a cane, said. “It’s an honor to be here with you all and with Nancy raising such awareness.”

The Davis family, including 93-year-old matriarch Barbara Davis, has been a charitable force in L.A. for decades. Barbara founded the Children’s Diabetes Foundation in 1977 and spearheaded the Carousel of Hope annual event, which has drawn Sidney Poitier, Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Lopez, Shirley McClaine, and Robert DeNiro over its 30-plus years.

“This [event] would not happen if not for a lot of big dreams being answered and the generosity of the Hollywood community,” Nancy told Variety . “Everyone has been here to support us. I’m so grateful for that.”

Since its inception, Race to Erase MS has had high-profile musical performances including Stevie Wonder and Sir Elton John, as well as media-friendly multi-year attendees such as Tommy Hilfiger, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan. 

Veteran comedienne Caroline Rhea made the tough gig of keeping the seen-it-all crowd engaged during dinner look easy, helping a live auction raise more than $160,000 from the audience of 750.

Two auction items included a rare-breed Australian labradoodle puppy that went for $18,000, and eight seats at Rick and Kathy Hilton’s annual Christmas pajama house party that went for $41,000.

Other celebrity attendees included Jessica Lowndes, Ioan Gruffudd, Emma Slater, Bijou Phillips, Joely Fisher, David Arquette, Carmen Electra, and Tia Carrere.

More information is available at  erasems.com .

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  20. Elektrostal

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  22. Moscow Oblast

    Moscow Oblast ( Russian: Моско́вская о́бласть, Moskovskaya oblast) is a federal subject of Russia. It is located in western Russia, and it completely surrounds Moscow. The oblast has no capital, and oblast officials reside in Moscow or in other cities within the oblast. [1] As of 2015, the oblast has a population of 7,231,068 ...

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  24. Killer whales attack, sinks 50-foot yacht in Strait of Gibraltar near

    A pod of killer whales attacked and sunk a yacht in the Strait of Gibraltar, between Spain and Morocco, officials confirmed to ABC News. Two people were on board the vessel when the incident ...

  25. Killer whales attack and sink sailing yacht in the Strait of Gibraltar

    A sailing yacht sunk in the Strait of Gibraltar on Sunday after an unknown number of orcas — also known as killer whales — slammed into the vessel with two people on board and caused a water ...

  26. Pod of killer whales attacks and sinks 50-foot yacht in Strait of

    A pod of killer whales attacked and sunk a yacht in the Strait of Gibraltar, between Spain and Morocco, officials confirmed to ABC News.. Two people were on board the vessel when the incident ...

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