Yacht designer Frans Maas has been named as one of two sailors who died after the yacht, Capella, capsized during the Light Vessel Race off Ostend. A third sailor is still missing
Dutch yacht designer Frans Maas and his friend, Freddy Franssens have been named as the two sailors who died when the yacht, Capella, capsized during the Genisol Light Vessel Race off Ostend, Belgium.
Three surviving crew – Andréas Zwanenburg, the grandson of Frans Maas and crew Robert Tan and Jan Toussein – were found on the upturned hull of the yacht – which was designed and owned by Frans Maas – after race organisers became concerned when the boat failed to return. The boat’s keel was missing.
All of them were suffering from hypothermia and were taking to hospital in Bruges for treatment. Media reports state that the three had been clinging to the hull for six hours until found by a passing dredger.
The sixth crew Hannes Goegebeur is still missing, and the search for him has now been called off by the rescue authorities.
The bodies of Frans Maas and Freddy Franssens were recovered 10 nautical miles offshore.
The incident happened on 1 July off Ostend.
The Maritime and Rescue Coordination Centre in Belgium has told local media that it received no distress call from the Capella prior to it capsizing.
The yacht had been taking part on the Genisol Light Vessel Race, which starts and finished in Zeebrugge and is largely sailed at night.
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At the time, there was a breeze of 22-27 knots, gusting 32 knots, and the waves were described by a fellow competitor as being two metres high.
The race is organised by the Royal Belgium Sailing Club (RBSC).
In a statement, the club said that 19 boats had been taking part in the race – Capella was the only Dutch yacht taking part.
It said the club had been using various channels throughout the day to try and reach the crew when they failed to return at 12pm. Organisers also checked ports along the route before contacting the Maritime and Rescue Coordination Centre.
None of the competitors or the club had received a distress call.
“There was quite a lot of wind, but the conditions were certainly not exceptional. The boat (Capella) crew were probably the most experienced racers from our region, which have been in much tougher conditions race hazards,” said the club.
“RBSC regrets this incident deeply. It expresses primarily its condolences to the relatives of the two deceased, and hopes that the missing person can be found alive,” it added.
The wreck of the Capella has now been towed to Ostend for inspection.
An investigation has now been launched by the Belgium authorities into the cause of the accident.