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Clipper Race clarifies boarding incident

Mar 8, 2016
LMAX Exchange crew member on board the drifting yacht Sayo.

LMAX Exchange crew member on board the drifting yacht Sayo.

The Clipper Race/LMAX Exchange

When the story broke worldwide on March 1 of the discovery of a deceased German sailor by Philippine fishermen, accompanied by a grisly picture of the mummified body, some observers raised questions about a race boat in the Clipper Race having found the vessel a month earlier off Guam and then continuing on with the race.

On March 8, the Clipper Race released a statement to clarify what had occurred on January 31 when the Clipper race team LMAX Exchange found the yacht, Sayo, with the body of its owner, Manfred Fritz Bajorat, dead at the nav station.

While some speculation made it appear that the crew of LMAX Exchange were cavalier in not taking any action, the Clipper Race in its statement made it clear that after a crewman from LMAX Exchange swam over, boarded Sayo and discovered Bajorat, that the race boat’s crew made contact with the U.S. Coast Guard in Guam and were instructed by the USCG to resume the race, since there was no further assistance they could render. According to the statement from the Clipper Race, the USCG took over responsibility for the yacht and the dead sailor’s remains. Further, “Clipper Race Director Justin Taylor also notified the German Embassy in London, who informed the German Police and Coast Guard, who were then able to trace the sailor’s next of kin via the boat registration details provided by the team.”

The Clipper Race statement goes to state: “It was out of respect that we chose not to publicize the full details of the finding. We hoped to avoid causing unnecessary alarm within the international sailing community by announcing the death of a then unknown sailor.

“As a company, we also felt it was inappropriate to create a news story out of such tragic circumstances, plus the experience was quite distressing for the crew member who went aboard, who does not wish to talk publicly about it.

“We feel desperately saddened for Mr Bajorat’s family who have now been subjected to the publication of graphic images. Our thoughts remain as ever with them.”  

The Clipper Race also released a video of the LMAX Exchange crewman, who wore a GoPro camera on his chest, climbing aboard Sayo and discovering Manfred Bajorat’s remains (video available at British media site here).

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