Racing yachts have ‘scary’ encounter with orcas off the Gibraltar Strait

Sports Desk, Jun 23 (EFE).- A pod of orcas had direct encounters with two boats racing in The Ocean Race VO65 Sprint as they approached the Strait of Gibraltar in the Atlantic Ocean, the organization reported on Friday.

The incident took place on Thursday afternoon during the seventh stage of the race to the west of Gibraltar and no injuries nor damage to the Team JAJO, of the Netherlands, and Portuguese Mirpuri Trifok Racing vessels were reported.

“20 minutes ago we got hit by some orcas,” said Team JAJO skipper Jelmer van Beek after the incident.

“Three orcas came straight at us and started hitting the rudders. Impressive to see the orcas, beautiful animals, but also a dangerous moment for us as a team. We took down the sails and slowed down the boat as quickly as possible and luckily after a few attacks they went away… This was a scary moment.”

The area around Gibraltar is becoming well known for encounters with killer whales.

During these encounters, individual orcas or pods of the mammals repeatedly ram into a boat’s hull or rudders.

Some boats have suffered considerable damage during the so called “attacks” and at least three yachts have so far sunk off the coast of Gibraltar.

“Fortunately for The Ocean Race boats today, the orca encounters were brief and relatively benign, although no doubt frightening, but with no damage to the people, boats or animals,” an Ocean Race statement read. EFE


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