Famous racing sailboat reportedly attacked off war-torn Yemen


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A Hong Kong-flagged racing yacht that has led its skippers to win multiple contests around the world was attacked off the coast of war-torn Yemen on Thursday, its crew reportedly been targeted by militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades.

The Lakota, a 62ft (19m) trimaran recently purchased by famed French yachtsman Philippe Poupon, found itself under attack off Hodeidah, according to initial information from the Army’s UK Maritime Commercial Operations Group. British. He said an investigation was underway into the incident, without further details.

Dryad Global, a maritime intelligence firm, told The Associated Press that the vessel involved was the Lakota. Lloyd’s List Intelligence identified the vessel as the trimaran, or a three-hulled racing vessel, just like a European naval force operating in the area.

Dryad said those on board escaped into international waters. MarineTraffic.com satellite tracking data analyzed by the AP showed the Lakota just west of the Hanish Islands in the Red Sea between Eritrea on the African mainland and Yemen on the Arabian Peninsula.

The ship had been docked in Djibouti, according to tracking data. The vessel had not turned on its Automatic Identification Tracking System, a safety device that broadcasts a vessel’s location to protect it from collisions with other vessels.

Dryad described the extinct tracker as “very strange”, given that the Red Sea is a major international shipping route. The security company said the ship was approached by three smaller boats and militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades.

“Several attempts were made to board him,” Dryad said. “Reports indicate that she managed to escape.”

Hodeidah is a long-contested port city between a Saudi-led coalition supporting Yemen’s government-in-exile and Iran-backed Houthi rebels who hold Yemen’s capital, Sanaa. The Houthis, Yemen’s government-in-exile and the Saudi-led coalition did not immediately acknowledge the attack.

The US Navy’s 5th Fleet based in the Middle East said it was aware of the attack, but declined to comment further.

A European Union naval force in the region reached the Lakota later Thursday with a helicopter piloted by the Italian frigate Carlo Bergamini. The EU force said the crew were safe, but declined to comment further immediately.

The Lakota, ex-Pierre 1er, has won many races for its skippers. American tycoon and adventurer Steve Fossett once owned the ship.

The Lakota had been listed for sale around 250,000 euros ($263,000) until earlier this year. In interviews with French sailing media, Poupon said he had bought the vessel and planned to sail it in the single-handed La Route du Rhum race. He said it would be sailed from the Philippines to the Mediterranean.

Earlier vessel tracking data from February shows the Lakota departing the Philippines before appearing in Djibouti this Sunday. It remains unclear who was on board the ship, which can carry five crew members.

Poupon, who had recently taken part in an expedition to Antarctica with his family, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The incident marked the latest attack at sea amid the war in Yemen. In January, the Houthis seized the Emirati vessel Rwabee. The Houthis described the ship as carrying military weapons, while the Saudi-led coalition described it as carrying dismantled hospital equipment.

The ship’s Indian crew was released last month after the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition reached a truce during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. The fragile truce is still in progress.

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