ABU DHABI // More than 30 yachts made their way to Yas Marina for the Abu Dhabi Yacht Show that began yesterday. One of them had a more exciting trip than the others. The 60-metre Linda Lou came under attack by suspected Somali pirates as it passed through the Gulf of Aden on its way to the UAE. The yacht was approached by a mother ship and three lightweight skiffs as it neared the end of more than 30 days of sailing, Capt Michael Schueler said.
The four craft approached the German-built yacht, which carried 15 crew, at around 3.30pm. The Linda Lou was part of a yacht convoy travelling with coalition military protection. The concerned crew radioed for help and a British helicopter gunship, armed with a 50-calibre machine gun, flew to the vessel's rescue, arriving within six minutes. The crew was prepared for an attack and had taken measures, including fitting barbed wire to vulnerable points and carrying a "sound gun" to be used against pirates.
No shots were fired, and the skiffs and mother ship fled after the gunship arrived. Coalition warships arrived on the scene shortly after. "The skiffs looked like fishing boats, like fishing dhows, which is what the ships normally disguise themselves like," said one of Capt Schueler's crew, who did not give his name. "They came at us out of the sun. During the daylight hours is when they prefer to attack. They are not very sophisticated. They don't like to attack at night. They were acting suspiciously so we called for help and the helicopter was overhead in six minutes."
The yacht's troubled journey was not apparent to the scores of onlookers who paraded along the docks, enjoying the spectacle. The yachts, ranging from 24m to more than 100m in length, travelled from across the globe to attend the glitzy bash. Although the event is in only its second year, organisers hope it will one day become a high-profile fixture on the international yacht show calendar, similar to the more established event in Monaco.
Franck Dailles, the group director of the Informa Yacht Group, which is organising the event, has said the group hopes more than 10,000 visitors will tour the Yas Marina during the course of the weekend. Margaret Stewart, 48, from Oxford in the UK, was visiting the Yas Hotel yesterday with her husband, Paul. "I don't think we will be buying one today," she said with a smile. "Not unless they will accept a cheque. It's a shame we can't afford the burgundy one. I like that one very much and the colour would perfectly match the curtains in our lounge."
Around 140 exhibitors' stands surround the marina, offering visitors a variety of ways of being separated from their cash, selling everything from Ulysse Nardin watches to Bentley motorcars. firstname.lastname@example.org