Racing yacht narrowly avoids high-speed collision with whale

The quick reflexes of a crewman aboard a high-speed racing yacht may have helped his team avert tragedy by avoiding a large whale in the path of the vessel. The near-miss was recorded in the middle of the Atlantic during the seventh stage of the Volvo Ocean Race. (You can spot the whale eight seconds into the video and in slow-motion at 23 seconds.)

Roberto “Chuny” Bermudez was at the helm of the yacht CAMPER, which was traveling at 20-plus knots, when he spotted the surfacing whale just off the bow. He swung the wheel with just enough force to miss.

Said media crew member Hamish Hooper: “With reflexes like a cat he narrowly missed what could have been the equivalent of a runaway freight train colliding with a truck. “We were doing just over 20 knots and all of a sudden the boat lurched to starboard, just staying in control.

“Nico [skipper Chris Nicholson] popped his head up to see Chuny looking as if he has just seen his life flash before his eyes. I think he had. It would have been seriously bad for both the whale and us.”

CAMPER is part of Emirates Team New Zealand and the seventh leg of the around-the-world race spans from Miami to Lisbon, Portugal.

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