Three round-the-world sailors arrived safely ashore in Australia on Thursday after sharks nearly sank their catamaran in the Coral Sea.
The two inflatable hulls of his 30-foot (9-meter) boat were damaged in several attacks by what are believed to be cigar sharks, a small species not considered dangerous to humans. Aerial images from the salvage showed extensive damage to the ship, which was nearly submerged and had completely destroyed the forward section of one of the hulls.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority coordinated the rescue of two Russian and one French sailor who had activated an emergency beacon early Wednesday 835 kilometers (519 miles) southeast of the Queensland city of Cairns. They were rescued by a Panamanian-flagged vessel that landed them on Thursday at the Gold Coast port of Mooloolaba, north of the provincial capital, Brisbane, the agency said.
Stanislav Beryozkin, one of those rescued, said he suspected the sharks had mistaken his boat for a whale.
According to him, the crew had prepared for sharks, but not in that quantity. “There were many. Maybe 20, maybe 30, maybe more,” Beryozkin told Seven News television.
They had protected the inflatable hulls with double-layered material. “But some of them jumped and bit over the double material,” he added.
Beryozkin, Evgeny Kovalevsky, and Frenchman Vincent Thomas Garate had set sail from Saint Petersburg, Russia, on July 1, 2021, and were sailing from Vanuatu to Cairns when they ran into problems.
Cigar sharks reach a length of between 42 and 56 centimeters (17 and 22 inches) and get their name from the circular holes they leave behind when biting their prey.