5 British Volvo 60 crew seized en route to race start

Five Britons have been detained by the Iranian navy while sailing a yacht from Bahrain to Dubai, the Foreign Office has announced. The sailors were crewing the Volvo 60, Kingdom of Bahrain, part of Team Pindar, when they were stopped on 25 November. In a statement, the FCO said it was possible the crew, who are still in Iran, may have “strayed inadvertently into Iranian waters”. The five are understood to be safe and well and their families have been informed.

FCO officials have had contact with Iran’s ministry of foreign affairs and the Iranian embassy in the UK, while Foreign Secretary David Miliband said he hoped the issue would be resolved “soon”.

The BBC’s diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall said the FCO had wanted to keep the matter “private” in order to increase the chance of a resolution. But after five days the details emerged and they had no option but to confirm the story, she added.

The 360-nautical mile Dubai-Muscat Offshore Sailing Race began on 26 November and ended two days later in the Omani capital’s Bandar Al-Rawdah marina. A statement on the Team Pindar website says: “On 25 November, Sail Bahrain’s Kingdom of Bahrain Volvo 60 racing yacht was stopped by Iranian navy vessels, as it was making its way from Bahrain to the start of the Dubai-Muscat Offshore Sailing Race. The boat may have strayed inadvertently into Iranian waters.”

Sail Bahrain is the brainchild of the Gulf state’s King Hamad, who wants to develop sailing and other water sports in the region. The team has recently bought two Volvo 60s to the kingdom from Southampton after setting up the project with the Team Pindar racing business.

BBC News