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Family business's connection to Iranian navy's seizure of UK sailors

When five British sailors were captured by Iran's navy last week, it was not only their families who were worried. Andrew Pindar OBE (pictured), the fourth-generation chairman of leading print and electronic media company Pindar, is the founder of the project that could inadvertently lead to an international incident.

Founded in 1836 by Andrew's great grandfather, Pindar capitalises on sports marketing to promote its business and has been involved in sailing since 1980. In September this year it announced it was embarking on a new venture in Bahrain called Sail Bahrain, which Andrew has been developing for over a year.

Sail Bahrain has as its aim the development of a best-in-class sailing and water sports academy and hopes to bring major international sailing and water sports events to Bahrain on a regular basis, as well as creating training and educational programmes for local schools and universities.

On 25 November, Sail Bahrain's Kingdom of Bahrain Volvo 60 racing yacht was stopped by Iranian navy vessels as it was making its way to the start of the Dubai-Muscat Offshore Sailing Race. According to a Pindar statement, the crew "believed they were in UAE waters, but due to a fault with the propeller, they may have inadvertently drifted into Iranian waters."

The five sailors were all taken off the boat by the Iranian navy and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office has since been trying to negotiate their release.

"Through the limited contact we have had with the crew, we are pleased to confirm that they appear to be in good spirits and have confirmed that they are being well looked after," said Andrew in a statement.

"As the Foreign Office continues to liaise with the Iranian authorities, our thoughts are very much focused on the safe return of the crew and in supporting the families who await their return."

The episode is particularly sensitive as 15 Royal Navy personnel were captured and held by the Iranian navy in 2007.

At the official launch on 19 November, Andrew said Sail Bahrain aimed "to create a new and exciting future for sailing and water sports in the Kingdom which will create many jobs and opportunities."

When Campden FB interviewed Andrew in September 2008, he outlined the importance of the €125 million company's involvement in sailing: "Banks can put their names on the side of Formula One cars but we can't afford a square inch there," he said. "Sailing allows us to be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. We aim to promote our values, explain what we are about as a business and get people to learn more about what we do."

Click here to read our exclusive interview with Andrew Pindar in full.

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