Sailors saved from shark-ravaged boat speak

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The vessel was located in the Coral Sea about 835km southeast of Cairns. Picture: AMSA

The three men saved from a shark-ravaged catamaran 835km southeast of Cairns have spoken of the ordeal for the first time.

The sailors’ inflatable boat, the Tion, was detected in the Coral Sea by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) after the crew’s emergency beacon was set off.

Evgeny Kovalevsky, Vincent Baugé and Captain Stanislav Berezkin told 9 News of the terrifying moment they realised their vessel was under attack.

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Evgeny Kovalevsky, dressed in red, and his crew. Picture: 9 News

“We actually don’t feel the (first) bump because our weight was two tonnes,” Mr Kovalevsky said.

“That shark is very small.”

The men discovered the catamaran had begun deflating, realising they were in “trouble”.

“They attacked our backside, and because we have a rudder system on our backside, the rudder system (was) destroyed very quickly ,” Mr Kovalevsky said.

“Suddenly we just like this, you remember Titanic? Like this, so we could manage to hold.

“It’s not death but it was big trouble.”

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The inflatable catamaran sustained damage to both hulls from several shark attacks. Picture: 9 News
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The vessel was located in the Coral Sea about 835km southeast of Cairns. Picture: AMSA

The 9m catamaran, carrying one French man and two Russian men, had departed from Vanuatu bound for Cairns when it was set upon by a school of sharks.

During the attack both hulls of the vessel were damaged.

AMSA responded to the crew’s emergency beacon, directing a Panama-flagged vehicle carrier named Dugong Ace to rescue the three men.

Mr Kovalevsky told 9 News that he heard plenty about “crocodiles, alligators and kangaroo(s)” in Australia but not sharks.

The sailor confirmed that despite the “catastrophe” he and his crew would continue their mission to circumnavigate the globe in an inflatable vessel, a journey first completed by Russians 220 years ago.

“Our destiny is very important,” he said.

“This is history.

“ My wife told me, ‘Go home’, I told her, ‘No, we continue’.”

It is believed the boat was attacked by a school of small cookiecutter sharks, typically 15-50cm in length, known to target boats and inanimate objects.