Multiple security services are reporting what may have been an opportunist approach and attempted boarding of a famous racing sailboat sailing near the coast of Yemen.
While both the UKMTO and MICA Centre reported that a vessel was attacked while in transit 33 nautical miles southwest of Al Hudaydah, Yemen, the full nature of the incident remains unclear.
Analysts from Dryad Global are identifying the vessel as a well-known racing multihull named Lakota. Between 1993 and 2000, the 60-foot vessel under the command of skipper Steve Fossett and under the name of Cheyenne, broke 12 records.
The vessel was listed for sale with prices ranging from approximately $250,000 to over $300,000 before being reported sold earlier this year.
The Associated Press said that famed French yachtsman Philippe Poupon acquired the multihull and planned to sail around the world. The vessel is normally operated by a crew of up to five people. It is currently registered in Hong Kong.
After leaving the Philippines earlier this year it was believed to be heading for the Mediterranean.
Dryad tracked the vessel to Port of Djibouti last weekend and reports today that it was near or in Yemini waters. They believe the AIS signal was off, possibly seeking to avoid pirates or other hostile forces in the area but it was unclear why the vessel might have been close to Yemen.
Despite a current fragile cease-fire the area remains heavily disputed with other reports of approaches.
The EU monitoring in the area is reporting that three ships carrying militants in civilian clothes chased the vessel and were attempting to board the multihull. Some reports said that one of the individuals made it aboard the vessel but was either chased overboard or jumped back into the ocean when he realised he had become separated from the others.
A spokesman for the EU force in the region told the Associated Press that the three boats fired upon the sailing ship. They estimated that 20 warning shots were fired and said that the people in the skiffs displayed assault rifles and the rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
The Maritime Executive