OK, this is officially getting extremely weird. After conducting an autopsy on the mummified remains of Manfred Bajorat, the German singlehander found by fishermen this past weekend, Philippine authorities have announced that Bajorat died of an acute myocardial infarction (i.e., a heart attack) more or less seven days before his body was recovered. Meanwhile, the folks running the current round-the-world Clipper Race have also announced that the crew one of their boats, LMAX Exchange, found Bajorat adrift and dead aboard his boat back in late January about 600 miles east of the Philippines.
These baldly contradictory assertions raise some interesting questions.
1. Are Philippine authorities capable of conducting a competent autopsy? Presumably they are.
2. If Bajorat has in fact only been dead a week, how did he get mummified so quickly? According to an authoritative-looking sidebar in the Daily Mail (tinted blue for emphasis), this is not inconceivable. A fancy Swiss academic specializing in evolutionary medicine has informed them that mummification in salt air can begin within days if conditions are right.
3. Why have the Clipper Race people waited until now to share their information? Why didn’t they break this obviously interesting story when they first had the chance? They did in fact announce on January 31 that the crew of LMAX Exchange had temporarily suspended racing after finding and boarding a dismasted yacht 470 miles west of Guam, but did not identify the yacht, nor did they mention that a corpse had been discovered. It was only three days ago, after the story broke in the Philippines, that the race people confirmed that the vessel found by LMAX Exchange was in fact Bajorat’s boat Sayo. In their statement they strongly imply but do not directly assert that the corpse was found at that time. According to the January 31 statement, the LMAX Exchange crew did notify the U.S. Coast Guard in Guam of their discovery, so this story can presumably be confirmed. In the second statement released on March 1 the Clipper Race asserts it was “unable to release any further details” in January, but does not explain why. It does mention that “the relevant authorities … instructed the team to continue racing while they took over the investigation and traced the next of kin.” Presumably they were also told by said authorities to say nothing of their grisly find until the next of kin had been found and notified, but this raises another question: what the heck have the Coast Guard been doing since January? Also: did the authorities in the Philippines know any of this before they announced that Bajorat had only been dead a week?
Other less mysterious facts have also surfaced. Bajorat, it turns out, does indeed have a daughter, Nina, age 32, who is a freighter captain based in Hamburg. She has been asked to provide a DNA sample so that Bajorat’s identity can be confirmed.
Nina Bajorat, daughter of Manfred and Claudia
Prior to setting sail aboard Sayo, Bajorat worked as an insurance salesman in Wuppertal, Germany. He was born in Velbert and learned to sail as a child during a family holiday in Belgium.
May he rest in peace.
My goodness, what a sad and strange story!
LMAX Exchange are leaders in the race (I’ve been in the boat in London before start and follow them as my favorite team). It quite possible that organizers told them to sweep everything under the rug so the whole event won’t get bad publicity and won’t be distracted (like taking in tow that boat and abandoning the race for a while).
Still there is a lot of contradictions and speculations at the moment.
“We can’t be bothered by people that are already dead – we’re sailboat racers!” Wow, how truly troubling. If this proves to be true, the Clipper Race folks should be run out of sport (or is it a business) of sailing!
“We can’t be bothered by dead people – we’re sailboat racers!” Wow. If This proves to be true, the Clipper Race folks should be run out of the sport (or is it just a business for them) of sailing.!
Its an unsettling story. Indicative of the way long distance cruising and living on board boats has developed. It used to be, not that long ago, a unique adventure. Now just an irritation that might delay a race schedule.
Best to get all the facts before judging and commenting.