Five crew detained before Dubai Muscat Offshore Race

Tue 1 Dec – 1730 UPDATE

Statement from Andrew Pindar OBE, Chairman of Sail Bahrain

“Last Wednesday, Sail Bahrain’s racing yacht set out from Bahrain to join the start of the Dubai-Muscat Offshore Race. On the way, we received a call from the crew stating that they had been stopped by an Iranian navy vessel. We understood that the crew believed they were in UAE waters, but due to a fault with the propeller, they may have inadvertently drifted into Iranian waters.

As the Foreign Office continue to liaise with the Iranian authorities, our thoughts are very much focused on the safe return of the crew and in supporting the families who await their return. The Team Pindar crew members on board are a close-knit group, who are all qualified sailors and have extensive experience on board racing yachts. Olly Smith, who was skippering the crew during the delivery has been involved with the team for many years and has over 100,000 sailing miles under his belt.

Through the limited contact we have had with the crew, we are pleased to confirm that they appear to be in good spirits and have confirmed that they are being well looked after.

Sail Bahrain’s Team Director, Nick Crabtree is on the ground in Dubai and is set to handle any logistics involved with their release.

Tue 1 Dec – 1300 UPDATE

BBC Radio 4’s World at One lunchtime news programme ran a long feature on the story including interviews with several experts and other sailors in the Gulf.

BBC World At One
Tue 1 Dec – 0820 UPDATE

BBC Radio 4’s Today programme ran more details on the story including an interview with UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband

BBC Radio 4 Today programme summary Scroll down to 0810 and click on listen again player for audio.

BBC News webstory

Five crew sailing aboard a Volvo 60 owned by Sail Bahrain were detained by the Iranian navy on 25 November, the day before the start of the 360 nautical mile Dubai-Muscat Offshore Race in which the team was due to compete.

A BBC report said that the crew are believed to be safe and well and that their families have been told.

Early reports suggest that the boat may have experienced difficulties with her engine before the start of the race and drifted into Iranian waters as they waited for a tow.

The course took the fleet through the Gulf, into the Indian Ocean and via the Straits of Hormuz, before arriving into Omani capital Muscat at the Bandar Al-Rawdah Marina.

The UK Foreign Office has confirmed that the five crew held are Luke Porter, Oliver Smith, David Bloomer, Oliver Young and Sam Usher. The event was to be the team’s first offshore race.

The event was first run in 1992 and this year saw an increase in the number of entrants competing under IRC.

This year the race was won by Team Premier a Landmark 43 helmed by promoter Claus Landmark and owner Dag Skarsgard with a Norwegian crew.