Champion yachtsman shot dead by pirates on Amazon

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Sir Peter Blake, one of the most successful sailors in yachting history, was shot dead by pirates who attacked his boat on the Amazon.

The New Zealander, aged 53, twice winner of the America's Cup, was on board his boat, Seamaster, with his company, Blake Expeditions. They had been monitoring global warming and pollution in Amazonia.

Seven or eight armed and hooded intruders boarded the boat at night when it was anchored off Macapa at the mouth of the Amazon awaiting customs clearance for Venezuela.

A statement from the expedition's organisers said: "Sir Peter was fatally shot and two other members of Seamaster's crew were injured."

Yesterday's entry in Sir Peter online log book said: "Location: Rio Amazonas. Status: still motoring. Conditions: pleasant. Dusk has turned the surface of the river into a greasy grey. There are lights of ships, barge traffic, ferries and small towns."

A meticulous planner and a gifted leader, his determination inspired immense loyalty from his crews and confidence from his backers. Sir Peter was the only man to compete in the first five Whitbread Round the World races and won the America's Cup in 1995 and 2000 with Team New Zealand.

He was knighted in 1991 and his accolades include two New Zealand Sportsman of the Year awards and four New Zealand Yachtsman of the Year awards.