Sunsail Statements

Sunsail RC044-978; 18th February 2016

Sunsail has approached the families to organise a private meeting either on an individual basis or as a group.  We anticipate the meeting(s) will be held in Cape Town.

Sunsail RC044-978; 2nd February 2016

Sunsail carried out an additional air search on Monday, 1st February for the upturned yacht but unfortunately the vessel was not sighted. We had all hoped that the search would be successful, however, we continue to focus on trying to locate the vessel and are discussing available options in this regard with external specialists, including a firm who will be able to advise on the area’s prevailing drift patterns.

Sunsail's team in Cape Town are continuing to liaise with the local authorities.

Sunsail RC044-978; 1st February 2016

Sunsail carried out an air search on Friday,29th January with an independent observer on board the search aircraft but unfortunately the search was unsuccessful and the vessel was not sighted. Subject to suitable weather conditions, Sunsail will be carrying out a further air search today (1 February) for the overturned yacht.

It would appear that one of the NSRI divers took a photograph showing the manufacturers’ plate when the NSRI team originally located the vessel. The plate appears to identify the vessel as the missing Sunsail RC044-978, however, Sunsail has not yet received any formal validation and is touch with the NSRI divers who took the photographs in order to try and confirm identification.

Sunsail's team in Cape Town are continuing to liaise with the local authorities.

Sunsail has received a request to meet with the families and is happy to organise a private meeting with them, either individually or as a group, however at the present time the management of Sunsail are focussed on trying to locate the vessel and so it would prefer that any such meeting take place at a later date.

Sunsail RC044-978; 29 January 2016

Sunsail intend to carry out an air search today for the overturned yacht which was last sighted off the coast of Cape Town. 

Following notification from the authorities on 18th January 2016 that the yacht had been sighted, Sunsail had assembled an operational team with a view to recovering the yacht. Sunsail had been in communication with the relevant marine authorities (MRCC and SAMSA) when the authorities decided to take control of the recovery and dispatched the tug boat Peridot. The Peridot attached the vessel and started to tow in the in direction of Cape Town, however, it appears the yacht broke free from the tow on Wednesday and the Peridot has since been conducting a sea-search to try and re-locate the vessel.

Sunsail is funding the air search in the hope that the missing vessel can be found.  Sunsail's team in Cape Town are continuing to liaise with the local authorities.

Sunsail RC044-978; 27 January 2016

Sunsail assembled an operational team at the news of the sighting on 18th January with a view to recovering the yacht and had been liaising with the relevant authorities (MRCC and SAMSA) in this regard. Subsequently the authorities took the decision that they would control the recovery procedure and dispatched the tug boat Peridot without further consultation with Sunsail. The Peridot attached the vessel and started to tow in the in direction of Cape Town. The previously referred to authorities are running the operation and we are now awaiting news of the estimated arrival time of the yacht back into Cape Town where we intend to have a Sunsail team meet the vessel.

Sunsail RC044-978; 25 January 2016

On 18th January 2016, Sunsail received notification from MRCC that on 14th January a Brazilian navy ship had sighted an upturned vessel in the Indian Ocean, off the southern coast of South Africa. On Saturday 23rd January, the vessel was sighted again and the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Agulhas duty crew launched a sea rescue craft. On arrival, the NSRI took photographs and NSRI rescue swimmers free dived to investigate markings on the yacht and, to the extent possible, explore under the hull.

A statement on the NSRI website says: “NSRI could not positively identify her as Sunsail. No physical markings were found on the Catamaran to assist to identify her and photographs have been sent to MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre), family of the missing crew of the Catamaran Sunsail and to the Catamaran Sunsail owners to allow them to investigate further.

NSRI Agulhas attached a satellite tracking beacon to the casualty Catamaran which MRCC will monitor to keep track of the position while Telkom Maritime Radio Services broadcast a Maritime Navigational Warning to warn ships in the area of the navigational hazard and the tug boat Peridot operated by Smit Amandla were activated and they will attempt to tow the casualty Catamaran to an appropriate Port.

During the night NSRI Hermanus were dispatched to investigate the option of attaching a tow-line to the catamaran to pull her from shipping lanes but the effort was aborted and MRCC are tracking the casualty Catamaran until the tug Peridot arrive on the scene.”

Sunsail assembled an operational team at the news of the sighting on 18th January with a view to recovering the yacht and had been liaising with the authorities in this regard until the decision was made to dispatch the tug boat Peridot. We are now awaiting news of the recovery operation and the estimated arrival time of the yacht back into Cape Town where we intend to have a Sunsail team to meet the vessel.

Please note, any news will be reported first to the families and we will respect their wishes in terms of next steps. It remains a priority for Sunsail to find out what happened to the missing crew and boat.

Sunsail RC0044-978, 3-August 2015

The vessel Comarco Swift is now back at Port St Louis after 21 days actively trying to locate the yacht in the region. Unfortunately there have not been any sightings of the upturned hull. 

We had all hoped that the search would be successful so it is very sad news that nothing was located during the search. 

Sunsail RC044-978, 21-July 2015

The vessel Comarco Swift is now on route to the last known position where the upturned catamaran was sighted based on now-known local conditions whilst the drift pattern is being revised, and will start the search in the area in due course.

Given the local weather conditions currently prevailing in the Indian Ocean there is no guarantee that the yacht will be found.

Please note, any news will be reported first to the families and we will respect their wishes in terms of next steps. We can confirm that it remains a priority for Sunsail to find out what happened to the missing boat and its crew.

Sunsail RC044-978, 10-July 2015

Due to the latest weather forecast departure of the vessel will be on Sunday, 12 July.

Sunsail RC044-978, 2-July 2015

Yesterday, Sunsail has appointed a local specialist firm in Mauritius to investigate the area identified by the MRCC as the most likely location of the upturned and as yet unidentified yacht. The name of the specialist firm’s vessel is Comarco Swift and she will set sail on 5 July, weather permitting. A dive team of three will join the crew who are headed up by an experienced search party captain. It is expected that the Comarco Swift will arrive in the area in approximately two to three days and it is anticipated the voyage will take eight days in total.

We have in principle agreed with the legal representatives of the families of the crew that an independent observer, jointly appointed by Sunsail and the families, will accompany the Comarco Swift to the area where the upturned hull was last seen. The observer has substantial experience in sailing and boatbuilding.

The humanitarian purpose of the voyage will be to attempt to locate the yacht, determine if it is indeed the RC044-978 and to establish whether any of the crew are still on board.  If the yacht is found to be the RC044-978 and nothing is found on board she will be sunk.

Given the local weather conditions currently prevailing in the Indian Ocean there is no guarantee that the yacht will be found.

We can confirm that the MRCC are continuing to alert vessels in the vicinity and are assisting with the drift patterns.

It remains a priority for Sunsail to find out what happened to the missing boat and its crew.

Sunsail RC044-978, 17-June 2015

On 12 February 2015, Sunsail reported as missing one of its 444 catamaran yachts which was on its way from Cape Town, South Africa to Phuket in Thailand with three crew on board. On Thursday, 21 May 2015 at 14:00hrs GMT the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination and Response Centre Cape Town (MRCC), who have been leading the search investigation, received photographs of an upturned vessel approximately 600nm SE of Mauritius.  The photographs were taken from, and supplied by, a container ship in the area. Nothing has yet been confirmed but it is believed at this stage that the upturned vessel might be the missing 444 catamaran yacht.

Sunsail was notified and received a copy of the photographs showing the upturned vessel on Friday 22 May and was told of the second sighting on 5 June by the MRCC. We were advised that the merchant vessel which sighted the upturned catamaran on 5 June was requested by the MRCC to attach a radar reflector to the catamaran. However, we were notified that very bad weather and sea conditions at the time (sea state 6, very rough, 4-6meter swells, wind NNE x 6/7), meant that it was too dangerous to attempt launching the ship’s boat to perform this task. On 6 June this merchant vessel made an attempt to relocate the upturned catamaran but this proved unsuccessful. No further sightings of the vessel have been reported since then in the area.

Subsequently, Sunsail approached a number of professional response companies on Mauritius with a view to sending out a professional response team and dive crew to the area where the upturned vessel was last seen. Working alongside the MRCC, Sunsail has selected a local specialist firm to investigate the area specified by the MRCC taking into consideration prevailing drift patterns.

Sunsail has advised the families of the missing crew that an “observer” can be placed on-board the response company’s boat to accompany any exploration of the area where the upturned vessel was last seen. 

We can confirm that the MRCC are continuing to alert vessels in the vicinity.

Sunsail has been in regular contact with the families of the missing sailors and also the authorities.  It remains a priority for Sunsail to find out what happened to the missing boat and its crew.

Sunsail RC044-978; 10th June 2015

On 12th February 2015, Sunsail reported as missing one of its 444 catamaran yachts which was on its way from Cape Town, South Africa to Phuket in Thailand with three crew on board.

On Thursday,  21st May 2015 at 14:00hrs GMT the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination and Response Centre Cape Town (MRCC), who have been leading the search investigation, received photographs of an upturned vessel approximately 600nm SE of Mauritius.  The photographs were taken from, and supplied by, a container ship in the area. 

We have since been advised that a merchant vessel sighted an upturned catamaran on 5th June and was requested to attach a radar reflector to the catamaran. However, we were notified that very bad weather and sea conditions at the time (sea state 6, very rough, 4-6meter swells, wind NNE x 6/7), meant that it was too dangerous to attempt launching the ship’s boat to perform this task. On 6th June that this merchant vessel made an attempt to relocate the upturned catamaran but this proved unsuccessful.

The upturned vessel has not, however, been seen by any other ships since then in the area. Nothing has yet been confirmed but it is believed at this stage that the upturned vessel might be the missing 444 catamaran yacht.

Sunsail was notified and received a copy of the photographs showing the upturned vessel on Friday 22nd May and was told of the sighting on 5th June by the MRCC. Subsequently, Sunsail approached a number of professional response companies on Mauritius with a view to sending out a professional response team and dive crew to the area where the upturned vessel was last seen. Working alongside the MRCC, Sunsail has now engaged a local specialist firm to investigate the area specified by the MRCC taking into consideration prevailing drift patterns.

We can confirm that the MRCC are continuing to alert vessels in the vicinity.

Sunsail RC044-978; 29th May 2015

On 12 February 2015, Sunsail reported as missing one of its 444 catamaran yachts which was on its way from Cape Town, South Africa to Phuket in Thailand with three crew on board. On Thursday, 21st May 2015 at 14:00hrs GMT the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination and Response Centre Cape Town (MRCC), who have been leading the search investigation, received photographs of an upturned vessel approximately 600nm SE of Mauritius.  The photographs were taken from, and supplied by, a container ship in the area.  The upturned vessel has not, however, been seen by any other ships that have recently passed through the area. Nothing has yet been confirmed but it is believed at this stage that the upturned vessel might be the missing 444 catamaran yacht.

Sunsail was notified and received a copy of the photographs showing the upturned vessel on Friday 22nd May. Subsequently, Sunsail approached a number of professional response companies on Mauritius with a view to sending out a professional response team and dive crew to the area where the upturned vessel was last seen. Working alongside the MRCC, Sunsail has now engaged a local specialist firm to investigate the area specified by the MRCC taking into consideration prevailing drift patterns.  It is anticipated that the local specialist firm will reach the area within three days. We can confirm that the MRCC are continuing to alert vessels in the vicinity.

Notes:

The experienced crew of three South African nationals are professional sailors who were contracted to deliver the yacht to a Sunsail base in Thailand.  The yacht departed on 15th December 2014 from Cape Town and was expected to arrive in Phuket, Thailand on or around 12th February. The Thai Navy, the Australian, Indonesian and Thai Coast Guard authorities as well as the South African Maritime were informed and involved and TOMNOD were engaged and assisted the search by use of satellite imagery allowing volunteers to review potential areas of interest.

Sunsail RC044-978; 22nd May 2015

On 19th February 2015, Sunsail reported a missing yacht crew and a 444 catamaran on the way from Cape Town, South Africa to Phuket in Thailand. On Thursday, 21st May 2015 at 14:00hrs GMT the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination and Response Centre Cape Town (MRCC) who is leading the investigation, received photos of an upside down vessel 600nm SE of Mauritius taken from a container ship in the area. It is believed that this vessel is that of the missing catamaran, but this is unconfirmed.

The MRCC are leading the search and rescue element and Sunsail are doing everything possible to assist those involved.

Notes:

The experienced crew, three South African nationals, who are professional sailors contracted to deliver the yacht to Sunsail’s Thai base, departed on 15 December 2014 from Cape Town and were expected to arrive around 12 February in Phuket. The Thailand Navy, the Australian, Indonesian and Thailand Coast Guard authorities as well as the South African Maritime were contacted by Sunsail. TOMNOD also were engaged and assisted the search by means of satellite imagery, using volunteers to review areas of interest.

Sunsail RC044-978; 27th March 2015

At the end of February, we reported a missing crew and 444 catamaran on the way from Cape Town, South Africa to Phuket in Thailand. On board are three South African nationals who are professional sailors contracted to deliver the yacht to our Thai base.

The experienced crew departed on 15th December from Cape Town and were expected to arrive around 12 February in Phuket. Our last contact with them was on 18 January and their last known position was at 26 30’ 80 00E, 2374nm from Phuket.

On 12th February we reported the overdue delivery to the Thai Navy, the Australian, Indonesian and Thai Coast Guard authorities as well as the South African Maritime Agency. On 19th February the status was changed from being a late delivery and reported to the same organisations as a missing crew. Since then, we have been working closely with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), who have called upon assistance from their counterparts in South Africa, Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Mauritius.

Since early March, Tomnod, a satellite imagery search tool, has been used to assist in the search. Through Tomnod over 19,000 people are actively engaged and looking for the crew, with image analysis experts providing essential knowledge in this procedure.

We are doing everything possible to help locate the crew. We are working closely with the family, and have regular communication and updates with AMSA and Tomnod as well as all other relevant authorities.

Sunsail RC044-978; 20th February 2015

Sunsail regrets to confirm that they have reported a missing yacht crew and a 444 catamaran on the way from Cape Town, South Africa to Phuket in Thailand. The three South African nationals are professional sailors contracted to deliver the yacht to its Thai base.

The Thailand Navy, the Australian, Indonesian and Thailand Coast Guard authorities as well as the South African Maritime were contacted initially by Sunsail on 12 February to report an overdue crew and subsequently on 19 February 2015 to report a missing crew.

The experienced crew departed on 15 December from Cape Town and was expected to arrive around 12 February in Phuket. The last known position was at 26 30’ 80 00E 2374nm from Phuket. The skipper has completed over 500,000 miles with 30 years of experience and is known to be a cautious seaman.

Sunsail is doing everything possible to assist those involved and family members have been kept up-to-date.

Sunsail will issue further statements as soon as information becomes available.

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