They Had Sailed the World for 2 Years. Then Came the Sharks

3 sailors rescued from their sinking catamaran
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 6, 2023 11:40 AM CDT
Updated Sep 10, 2023 7:21 AM CDT
They Had Sailed the World for 2 Years. Then Came the Sharks
In this photo provided by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, a partially submerged catamaran is shown during a rescue of 3 sailors in the Coral Sea, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023.   (Australian Maritime Safety Authority via AP)

It was an around-the-world trip that almost ended in death, possibly by drowning or at the hands of sharks. But "an emergency beacon absolutely saved their lives" says a manager at the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) of three men who were rescued Wednesday from their shark-battered inflatable catamaran. The trio—two Russians and one Frenchman—had left Vanuatu in the Pacific last Monday headed some 1,200 miles to Cairns, Australia.

Per an Instagram account for their voyage cited by NBC News, 16-inch cookie cutter sharks began attacking the hulls on Monday, causing it to lose buoyancy. The men continued another 100 miles but were again attacked on Tuesday, with sharks piercing the right hull, causing the catamaran to begin to sink. They activated their emergency beacon at 1:30am Australia time Wednesday and were rescued roughly 45 minutes later in the Coral Sea some 500 miles from Cairns, reports the Guardian. The AMSA manager tells the AP that while there are many reasons why a shark may attack a boat, "the motivations of these sharks is unclear."

NBC News reports Evgeny Kovalevsky and Stanislav Berezkin of Siberia were leading the round-the-world quest, which had departed from St. Petersburg in July 2021 and was due to return there in July 2024. They were assisted in this stage by Vincent Thomas Etienne. They're set to arrive in Brisbane on Thursday, where the Russians will confer with their head of operations to determine if the expedition can continue; the 30-foot catamaran was lost. (More sharks stories.)

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