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Wife's joy as Irish sailor is freed by Iran

The wife of an Irish journalist who has been freed by the Iranian navy has spoken of her relief at his release yesterday.

The crew of the Kingdom of Bahrain was freed shortly after 9am local time.

The yacht had been detained after it strayed into coastal waters while travelling from Bahrain to Dubai for a race.

David Bloomer, a radio presenter originally from Malahide, Co Dublin, was onboard the 60ft yacht when it was intercepted by the Iranian navy.

David's wife, Vanessa Bloomer, said she was "delighted" to hear the good news.

"I have just been told," she said. "As soon as he gets returned I am sure he will make that call to me to tell me how he is."

Iran had raised fears that the four young British professional sailors and Mr Bloomer, who has Irish and British citizenship and was based in Bahrain, were facing a protracted ordeal.

But state radio announced yesterday morning that the crew had been let go.

"After getting necessary guarantees, Iran released the five," a statement from the Revolutionary Guards said.

"We reached the conclusion that they entered Iran's territorial waters by mistake." Mr Bloomer's cousin, John , said: "It is utter nonsense for the Iranians to say the sailors were up to no good.

David was only on that yacht to report on a race for the Bahrain radio station he worked for."

Five on Kingdom of Bahrain

Oliver Smith

The skipper of the yacht is 31. He is an experienced sailor with a degree in ocean science and marine navigation from Plymouth University, where he sailed with the men's first team. He then spent six months skippering a 50ft survey yacht and doing delivery work in South America and the Caribbean. He was in a team that came third in the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, and in 2003 went on to work for Pure Sailing as skipper of a Volvo 60 race boat. A friend, Conrad Humphreys, said: "He will be used to working in obscure hours with little sleep."

Luke Porter

Mr Porter's parents, Charles and Beverley, say that the 21-year-old professional sailor is used to dealing with adversity. He first started crewing his father's racing yacht at 14 and is now an "ocean master" with vast experience, having made five transatlantic crossings and taken part in regattas in the Caribbean. Charles Porter, of Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, said: "He is a very strong character, very resilient. He's as good as we can expect."

Oliver Young

One of the youngest of the captives, 21-year-old Mr Young was described as very mature for his age. One of four brothers, from Saltash, near Plymouth, he qualified as a professional yachtsman after leaving school. His mother, Susan, said: "He will be absolutely fine. He is a very strong person, he will be coping. The team get on really well, they are a really nice group of lads and I am not worried about their morale or anything like that. As a mother I do feel worried, but who wouldn't be? We are just hopeful that it will all come to an end very soon." Sailing had always been a passion, she said, and she doubted that this would put him off.

David Bloomer

A well-known radio presenter in Bahrain, where he has lived since the mid-Eighties, Mr Bloomer hosts the Friday morning sports show. He planned to send reports of the yacht's progress back from the race. In his sixties and married to a Gulf Air hostess, he sailed in his youth but developed a passion for off-road driving, qualifying as an instructor and taking part in adventures from the Amazon to the Namib and Kalahari deserts. A friend said he would be a calming influence on the younger captives with his unfailing "dry Irish sense of humour".

Sam Usher

The father of two children Mr Usher, 26, has owned and run a sailing academy called Wykeham Watersports in Yorkshire for the past five years. As well as offering instruction in sailing, windsurfing, power boating, canoeing and kayaking, it is affiliated with a charity that helps people with cancer and their families. Just before their capture he posted a message on Facebook, saying: "Hi Lads, see you in a few days for the event. Hope all has been going ok!"

Belfast Telegraph


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