Team Vestas Wind skipper Chris Nicholson says it was "the No. 1 toughest decision of my life" to order his crew to abandon their sloop in the dark after it was grounded on a remote Indian Ocean reef during the Volvo Ocean Race.

Nicholson spoke with volvooceanrace.com Sunday from the remote island of Ile du Sud, where the nine-man crew was transported by a local coast guard after the accident off Mauritius.

Says Nicholson: "It's the most beautiful night I've ever seen. And last night was one of the worst nights that I have ever seen."

Nicholson says the boat was doing about 19 knots when it hit the reef, yet there were no injuries. He says he's amazed the boat survived the impact without breaking up immediately.

He says the syndicate must decide if the boat can be salvaged.