The threat of piracy has forced one of the top events in world yachting to change route to protect the competitors from the possibility of kidnap or murder.
The Volvo round the world race, which starts from Alicante early November, was due to sail from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi and then to Sanya, China, on its second and third legs.
But the Somali threat on the run up the Indian Ocean to Abu Dhabi and the added threat through the Straits of Malacca has prompted race director Jack Lloyd, following consultation with international and local experts, to take the boats to a “safe haven” yet to be revealed.
From there the boats will be shipped to another port in the Gulf for a sprint finish to Abu Dhabi, which, as well being a stopover, has an entry skippered by British double Olympic medallist Ian Walker.
In Plymouth, the overall winner of the Fastnet Race was confirmed as the defending, Hamble-based 72-footer Rán, owned by Niklas Zennström.
Mitch Booth, seven times Olympian, has, in a two-line e-mail, been fired as skipper of the Team China challenge in the America’s Cup World Series, which stages its next regatta in Plymouth next month. No replacement has been announced.