Does overturned hull hold clue to mystery of missing SA yachtsmen?

An overturned hull recently spotted off the east coast of South Africa has raised hopes a year after a catamaran went missing with three local yachtsmen onboard.

Looking for answers, their families are urgently mobilising to locate the drifting hull.

Anthony Murray, 58, Reginald Robertson, 59, and Jaryd Payne, 20, were delivering the Leopard catamaran, Moorings A5130/Sunsail RC044-978, from Cape Town to Phuket when all contact was lost during a cyclone on January 18 last year.

A hull was spotted off Port Elizabeth on Thursday. Their families were informed on Monday, the one-year anniversary.

“This past year has been an emotional rollercoaster for everyone,” Diane Coetzer, Murray’s sister-in-law and the families’ spokesperson, told News24.

“To have it happen on that day was simultaneously exhilarating but also a very hard reminder of the fact that they are probably never coming back.”

She said it was hard looking at photos of the hull, but they were almost certain it was theirs.

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hull position

Ravi Naicker, operations manager at the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, said a Brazilian navy vessel spotted a hull roughly 78 nautical miles (144km) off Cape Recife. The latest position is offshore from Jeffreys Bay.

“We cannot confirm that it was the catamaran that went missing last year,” he said, adding there were no identification marks.

“We have issued a navigation warning for vessels in that area so there is no risk of collision.”