Harken Derm

Clipper Race Discovered Dead Skipper

Published on March 1st, 2016

The discovery this past weekend of the German-registered sailboat Sayo off the coast of the Philippines quickly became international news, not so much because of the boat but rather the mummified body of its skipper.

It was theorized that dry ocean winds, hot temperatures, and the salty air helped preserve his body, but nonetheless the skipper, Manfred Fritz Bajorat, 59, had to have been dead for some time. Initial reports said no sightings of him had been mentioned since 2009.

With all the ocean’s traffic, how could a 40-footer go unnoticed for that long? Apparently it didn’t. One of the teams in the 40,000 mile Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Yacht Race, which was on the race leg from Australia to Vietnam, found the yacht and skipper a month earlier.

Here was the Clipper Race report on January 31, 2016 as the fleet was to the east of the Philippines:

LMAX Exchange had suspended racing this morning after discovering an abandoned yacht. The team, which was in third place at the time, was in contact with the US Coast Guard in Guam and the Race Director who communicated with Falmouth Coast Guard on the matter. No other Clipper Race yachts were involved. All Clipper Race crew are safe and well and the team has now resumed racing.

With the yacht now discovered, the Clipper Race report on March 1, 2016 included this clarification:

On January 31 during the leg from Australia to Vietnam, LMAX Exchange came across a dismasted boat south of Guam. At the time, the Clipper Race was unable to release any further details but it was in fact the German-registered yacht Sayo which was recently discovered off the coast of the Philippines with the sole occupant dead, probably for some considerable time. An LMAX Exchange crew member had boarded the yacht and reported the find which was relayed to the relevant authorities who instructed the team to continue racing while they took over the investigation and traced the next of kin.

Guam is over a thousand nautical miles to the east of the Philippines.

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