In an incident that couldn’t have been better scripted had BMW/Oracle’s PR team written it themselves, today we learned that 5 British sailors were kidnapped and their boat – an ex Volvo 60 now called Kingdom of Bahrain and owned by Sail Bahran – was detained by Iranian authorities. The sailors were delivering the boat to Dubai from Bahrain for the Dubai-Muscat race, and were taken hostage by the Iranian navy not far from the spot where 15 British servicemen were ambushed in 2007.
Between this news and today’s reports that Switzerland overwhelmingly voted to ban the construction of minarets on mosques anywhere in the alpine nation, Ernesto Bertarelli’s choice of Ras-Al-Kaimeh (RAK) for the 33rd America’s Cup – not far from the spot the Bahrain sailors were abducted – is beginning to look like possibly the most boneheaded move in the history of sailing. Fortunately, US courts have agreed, and with the upcoming appellate decision expected to affirm the lower court’s invalidation of RAK as the venue for the 33rd Cup, Ernesto’s legacy as the biggest douche in the sport will be complete. In any event, assuming the RAK sheiks don’t chain his boat to the dock, Alinghi 5 will be headed to Valencia over the Christmas holiday after repairs are made on some damage received during a brisk sail in 14 knots the other day. Will the karma Alinghi have built up over the past 2 years continue to haunt them back in "home" waters? We shall see.
In the meantime, there are a bunch of sailors and a big racing boat that need to be released by a publicity-loving, fundamentalist regime anxious to make a point. Hopefully, the UK government and Andrew Pindar (Pindar is one of the partners in Sail Bahrain) will get it done immediately. Our thoughts go out to the five sailors in a cage right now.
Talk about the kidnapping here.