Does overturned hull hold clue to mystery of missing SA yachtsmen?

2016-01-20 16:55
(Picture: Supplied)

(Picture: Supplied)

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Cape Town – An overturned hull recently spotted off the east coast of South Africa has raised hopes a year after a catamaran went missing with three local yachtsmen onboard.

Looking for answers, their families are urgently mobilising to locate the drifting hull.

Anthony Murray, 58, Reginald Robertson, 59, and Jaryd Payne, 20, were delivering the Leopard catamaran, Moorings A5130/Sunsail RC044-978, from Cape Town to Phuket when all contact was lost during a cyclone on January 18 last year.

A hull was spotted off Port Elizabeth on Thursday. Their families were informed on Monday, the one-year anniversary.

"This past year has been an emotional rollercoaster for everyone," Diane Coetzer, Murray's sister-in-law and the families' spokesperson, told News24.

"To have it happen on that day was simultaneously exhilarating but also a very hard reminder of the fact that they are probably never coming back."

She said it was hard looking at photos of the hull, but they were almost certain it was theirs.

Ravi Naicker, operations manager at the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, said a Brazilian navy vessel spotted a hull roughly 78 nautical miles (144km) off Cape Recife, and 98 nautical miles (181km) off East London.

"We cannot confirm that it was the catamaran that went missing last year," he said, adding there were no identification marks.

"We have issued a navigation warning for vessels in that area so there is no risk of collision."

The men that went missing. (Picture: Supplied)

The catamaran that the three missing yachtsmen were delivering to Phuket from Cape Town a year ago (Picture: Supplied)

Coetzer said they were overwhelmed with offers of help from divers and other professionals after posting the sighting to a specially set up Facebook group.

The National Sea Rescue Institute had offered to help if it was sighted again and reachable, she said.

"It is very hard because obviously every hour and day creates a much bigger search area to locate it again."

They were working tirelessly towards getting a definitive drift pattern so a plane could look for it. Then they would be able to launch a salvage operation. All of this was expensive.

"It is torture not having answers and any definitive closure. We don't expect the hull will give us that, but it should provide some information or something."

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