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Skipper: Toughest decision of his life to order crew to abandon sloop grounded on reef

  • In this image provided by Team Alvimedica/Volvo Ocean Race, navigator Will Oxley communicates with Team Vestas Wind over VHF during Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race between Cape Town, South Africa, and Abu Dhabi, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Nine crewmen from Team Vestas Wind were rescued after abandoning their 65-foot sloop that ran aground on a reef off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean during the race. The sailors will stay on the remote Ile du Sud, where there is a house and some facilities, race officials said late Saturday night. There were no injuries. Danish-backed Team Vestas Wind was making plans with race officials on how to get the crew off the island and salvage the sloop. (AP Photo/Team Alvimedica/Volvo Ocean Race, Amory Ross)

    In this image provided by Team Alvimedica/Volvo Ocean Race, navigator Will Oxley communicates with Team Vestas Wind over VHF during Leg 2 of the Volvo Ocean Race between Cape Town, South Africa, and Abu Dhabi, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. Nine crewmen from Team Vestas Wind were rescued after abandoning their 65-foot sloop that ran aground on a reef off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean during the race. The sailors will stay on the remote Ile du Sud, where there is a house and some facilities, race officials said late Saturday night. There were no injuries. Danish-backed Team Vestas Wind was making plans with race officials on how to get the crew off the island and salvage the sloop. (AP Photo/Team Alvimedica/Volvo Ocean Race, Amory Ross)  (The Associated Press)

  • This photo provided by Team Alvimedica shows the Vestas Wind ocean racing sloop where it has run aground and is listing at the Cargados Carjos Shoals off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, the crew having abandoned ship for life rafts, during the Volvo Ocean Race,a few hours before sunrise Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014. Nine crewmen from Team Vestas Wind were rescued.   (AP Photo/Team Alvimedica, Amory Ross)

    This photo provided by Team Alvimedica shows the Vestas Wind ocean racing sloop where it has run aground and is listing at the Cargados Carjos Shoals off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, the crew having abandoned ship for life rafts, during the Volvo Ocean Race,a few hours before sunrise Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014. Nine crewmen from Team Vestas Wind were rescued. (AP Photo/Team Alvimedica, Amory Ross)  (The Associated Press)

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.