6 December, 2001, 17:59 GMT
Sailor Peter Blake Killed by Pirates
PAULO, Brazil - Masked pirates boarded sailing champion Peter
Blake's yacht on the Amazon River, shooting and killing the
two-time America's cup winner when he tried to resist.
to his agent, Blake was shot dead when intruders boarded his
boat, Seamaster, on Wednesday. In
1995 he helped make Team New Zealand only the second
non-American team to win the America's Cup in the trophy's
144-year history, and they won again in 2000. He was
famous for his lucky red socks, wearing the same pair throughout
the entire 1995 America's Cup Challenge. Knighted by the
Queen in 1991, he also captured the Jules Verne trophy in 1994,
before being appointed as a goodwill ambassador for the United
Nations Environment Programme in 2001.
53, was on a worldwide
expedition to monitor global warming and pollution aboard
his 119-foot yacht, said Alan Sefton, spokesman for Blake's
vessel, called Seamaster, was in the mouth of the Amazon on
Wednesday night near Macapa, a city 1,600 miles north of Sao
Paulo, when three or four assailants approached in a rubber
dinghy ``commonly used by river rats that ply the Amazon river
in search of victims,'' said state police chief Rosilene Martins
and hooded individuals came over the rail and had the crew at
gunpoint,'' Sefton said Thursday in a telephone interview. ``It
would appear that Peter was down below and heard what was going
on and came charging up'' and was shot at least twice.
crew members were slightly injured but have been released from
prosecutor Manoel Pastana told reporters the crew was preparing
a barbecue on the yacht when the gunmen appeared, shouting
to local media, the killers took a spare engine and several
watches from the Seamaster, which had been awaiting customs
clearance to leave Brazil after a two-month stay.
and a crew of 10 arrived in Brazil in October. Sefton said they
spent two months in the upper reaches of the Amazon and Rio
Negro and had encountered nothing but ``friendly, warm,
as soon as the boat gets back into so-called civilization,
something tragic happens,'' Sefton told New Zealand's One News
Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark described Blake as ``a
national hero,'' and flags were at half-staff across the
country. Parliament paid tribute to Blake with a moment of
silence and a native Maori hymn.
think he is to the waters what Sir Edmund Hillary (conqueror of
Mount Everest) has been to the mountains. He's just the most
amazingly accomplished yachtsman,'' Clark said. ``He was an
inspiration to all New Zealanders, and we will all feel a
tremendous sense of loss.''
Zealand Ambassador Denise Almao flew into Amapa, the governor's
office said in a note.
Foreign Ministry said in a statement that ``government deeply
regrets the tragic death of New Zealands' renowned explorer,
yachtsman and scientist.''
Blake - Environmentalist
Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the statement added, ``has ordered
that the criminals be promptly identified and arrested.''
had been scheduled to sail up the coast to Venezuela to meet
blakeexpedition's jungle team. The vessel had previously been on
a three-month study of wildlife in the Antarctic region.
skipper Dennis Conner, a three-time America's Cup winner who was
beaten by Team New Zealand 5-0 in 1995, praised Blake.
was a hero and role model for the New Zealand people and
obviously a winner that was focused and accomplished his goals,
whether it was winning the round-the-world race or the America's
Cup,'' Conner said Thursday.
March 2000, Blake said he had received letters from someone
threatening to kill him and harm his family.
always got crank mail, but it has been going beyond that
recently,'' Blake said at the time. ``So we have taken all the
precautions we were advised to take.''
Blake's 1995 America's Cup win, Governor General Dame Cath
Tizard said it was New Zealand's proudest day since Auckland
native Edmund Hillary became the first man to climb Mount
Everest in 1953.
America's Cup was the only major sailing trophy that the
self-proclaimed ``Nation of Sailors'' hadn't claimed, and Team
New Zealand under Blake won with one of the most dominating
performances in America's Cup history.
was appointed in July as a goodwill ambassador of the United
Nations Environment Program. Before that, he headed the Cousteau
Society, an environmental group founded in 1973 by the late
undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau.
said Blake considered the current expedition his last and
greatest adventure, hoping to create greater awareness of the
need to take care of the environment.
born in Auckland, announced earlier this year that he was
relinquishing control of the New Zealand syndicate. He was
knighted in 1995. Blake, who
began sailing at age 5, won the Whitbread Round the World Race
in 1989 and took the Jules Verne Trophy in 1994 by sailing
nonstop around the globe on a catamaran in 74 days, 22 hours, 17
minutes and 22 seconds. The record fell three years later.
year, he led the first non-American entry to retain the
America's Cup in 149 years, beating Italian challenger Prada
is survived by wife Pippa and two children. On the Net:
Blake's expedition, http://www.blakexpeditions.com/
- Jules Verne Trophy
Skipperd by RKJ and Peter
Blake, 'ENZA' attempted to beat 80 days around the world in 1993
but struck an object in the Southern Ocean and withdrew.
In 1994 with the same skippers she got around the world in 74
days 22 hours 18 minutes, thus setting a new world record and
gaining the Jules Verne Trophy. Sold on to Tracy Edwards and
re-named Maiden, with an all girl crew she was dismasted in the
Southern pacific when trying to better this time. She was
subsequently sold to Tony Bullimore. (Originally the Nigel Irens
designed catamaran “Tag” built in Canada in 1984)
February 24, 2004
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