Omega-sponsored environmentalist Sir Peter Blake, 53, a two-time winner of the prestigious America’s Cup yachting race, was murdered Dec. 6 in Brazil. Omega, one of the world’s leading Swiss luxury watches, is chief sponsor of “blakexpeditions,” which Blake founded to raise awareness of environmental issues affecting “life in, on, and around the waters of the world.” The watch company also sponsored Blake’s vessel Seamaster, named for Omega’s diving watch.
Blake’s death was reported “with deepest regret” by Omega in a statement issued Dec. 6.
According to Omega and other published reports, Blake was shot and killed by several armed and hooded intruders who boarded the Seamaster while anchored at Macapa, Brazil, at the mouth of the Amazon. Two other members of the 10-person crew were wounded. The gunmen got away with one of the vessel’s engines, said Brazilian police.
Blake, a New Zealander, and his crew had just completed a two-month expedition on the Amazon and the Rio Negro to monitor effects of global warming pollution on the environmentally sensitive region.
Nicolas G. Hayek, chairman and chief executive officer of Omega’s parent company, The Swatch Group, said, “Sir Peter has been a personal friend for a number of years, and we were honored to support his worthwhile cause. No words can express our sorrow at this sad loss, and at this time our thoughts are with his family in England and his close friends within the ‘blakexpeditions’ organization.”
Blake kept a daily log on Omega’s Web site (www.omega.ch) detailing the expedition’s progress. In his last entry, Dec. 4, he noted his close work with chief sponsor Omega, “the Swiss timing company who are instrumental to our being able to operate.” The Omega people, he wrote, “firmly believe in what we all want to achieve, even if the top of the environmental-awareness mountain that we are endeavoring to climb is out of sight through the clouds right now.”
Blake was one of the most successful sailors in yachting history. He won the prestigious Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989 and the Jules Verne Trophy in 1994 with a record-breaking nonstop voyage. He was chosen to succeed the late Jacques Cousteau as captain of the marine research vessel Calypso II, and he twice won the America’s Cup yachting race (in 1995 and 2000) with Team New Zealand. Blake was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1991.
After retiring from competitive yachting in 2000, Blake—an Omega brand ambassador since 1995—set up “blakexpeditions” with Omega as chief sponsor. That same year, he was appointed special envoy of the United Nations Environment Program.