Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Terrorist attack destroys Desafío's yacht club in northern Spain

Although this terrible and tragic event took place early on Monday morning, at 00:50 am more precisely, I report it today, after deliberating with other Spanish sailing journalists on whether any publicity should be given to these cowardly attacks.

As most of our readers probably know, Desafío, the former Challenger of Record of the 33rd America's Cup, decided last month to abandon the newly formed CNEV (Club Náutico Español de Vela) and instead represent a well-respected and traditional yacht club. As a result, Desafío chose to fly the colors of Real Club Marítimo del Abra, located in the northern Spanish city of Bilbao. Officially, the reason the team opted for that yacht club was that it was the first one in the alphabetical order of all Spanish clubs although it is strongly believed it was a decision by Iberdorla, the syndicate's main sponsors, whose headquarters are a few kilometers from Abra.

On Monday morning, at exactly 00:50 am, a car bomb exploded right in front of the yacht club's main building. According to the initial press reports, there were at least 60kg of explosives inside the van that was parked on the city's boardwalk, just 10 meters away from the building's entrance but also very close to a number of adjacent houses. The Basque terrorist group ETA had warned the police at 11:55 pm on Sunday that a bomb would explode within the following hour in front the club's premises. And so it did and according to witnesses the explosion was heard miles away. Unaware of the bomb threat, people in the vicinity thought a nearby chemical factory had exploded. There were no victims since the police had managed to evacuate the area but material damage was severe.

The yacht club's building with the signs of destruction very clear.

Fortunately, there hasn't been any structural damage to the building but as one can easily judge from the photos the damage was extensive, to say the least. According to TV reports, the yacht club reckons it should take more than 6 months of repairs and construction work to bring the building to its initial conditions.

As for the reasons of the attack, it is not believed they are related to the fact the yacht club will eventually challenge for the 34th America's Cup. The Real Club Marítimo del Abra is par excellence the yacht club of the local pro-Spanish elite and establishment and among its members figure various prominent local bankers and industrialists. That fact by itself makes it a target for the ETA group.

This is the third time the yacht club suffers a terrorist attack from ETA. The first one, in the 1970's, was by far the most important one when an arson completely burned down the old wooden building. The new concrete premises were then attacked in 2002 and again yesterday.

Obviously, the team's facilities in Valencia (1,000 km away) have not been affected and there haven't been any reports of any threats to the Port America's Cup facilities, at least as far as we know.

Police search for evidence in the yacht club's facilities.

Here is a video taken right before the attack. At one minute into the video you can see the huge explosion.



At 5:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this- I for one, would not have known about it otherwise.


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