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Mystery over missing South African yachtsman

by Sail-World Cruising round-up on 24 Jul 2012
Finnegan route as reconstructed by Terry’s family .. .
A South African family has flown to the Seychelles in a desperate bid for news on missing yachtsman Sean Terry, formerly of Cape Town, who disappeared in mysterious circumstances while completing what was to be the final leg of his circumnavigation of the globe on his yacht Finnegan.

Police in the Seychelles are investigating the disappearance of the South African/British national yachtsman, 48, who despite being an experienced yachtsman and skipper, whom the family doubt would be careless, was allegedly lost overboard.

Although he usually sailed alone, Terry was accompanied by an Austrian national, Stefan Pokorny - earlier incorrectly reported to be an Australian - on the final leg when he planned to sail from Sri Lanka to Chagos, and then on to Madagascar. The Austrian is being held for questioning by police in the Seychelles.

The family says the yacht arrived on June 25 on the island of Coëtivy, off the coast of the Seychelles, with only the crew member on board.

Terry was reported missing, apparently having been lost overboard some days previously, but his family says on the site they were notified of his disappearance only on July 11.

A family spokeswoman revealed that they had established that Terry arrived in the Maldives on May 8, then left for Chagos on May 13 together with an Italian-owned yacht, S/Y Alice. The two vessels sailed in tandem and maintained radio communications until they lost contact on June 18.

Crew members of the S/Y Alice reported that they were forced to change course on June 20, and to pass north of the Saya de Malha Bank seeking shelter before the wind and seas became rough.

They were not sure whether Terry had been forced to do the same, or had been caught up in those strong winds.

When the Finnegan arrived on the small coral island of Coëtivy, off the Seychelles on June 25, the crew member reported Terry missing, saying he was lost overboard between Chagos and Coëtivy.

'The crew member is currently in police custody for questioning. It’s a very emotional and troublesome period for the family,' a family spokeswoman said, adding that they were searching for an explanation and answers about what happened.

'We are extremely grateful for the excellent cooperation we have received from both the Seychelles police and the British High Commission,' she added. 'As this is an ongoing investigation we regret that we have no further information at this time. We must allow the police to complete their investigation and we must wait for their final reports.'

The family has urged anyone who may have had contact with Sean Terry during the past three months or may have any information, to notify them via their Facebook page.

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