Sir Peter Blake's Seamaster has bittersweet Auckland homecoming

Sir Peter Blake's old boat, Seamaster, now renamed Tara, returned to Auckland on Saturday for the first time since he was killed by pirates in 2001.

Its first mate, Nicolas de la Brosse, met Sir Peter in France as a child and told him he wanted to follow in his footsteps.

"He was my idol, basically. He pretty much won any kind of offshore racing and the Cup, and I was a big fan of sailing, so this guy was just my idol," he told Newshub.

He was supposed to work for Sir Peter on Seamaster when he finished high school. But just six months shy of Mr de la Brosse's graduation, Sir Peter was murdered on board the boat.

For a while, everything stopped. Lady Pippa Blake, Sir Peter's wife, sold Blake Expeditions. But eventually Mr de la Brosse did achieve his goal, and has been continuing Sir Peter's work on the very same boat for the past five years.

"You can still feel Peter on board. It's pretty special to be on the boat, to be on Peter's boat. And it's pretty special to be back in Auckland today," he said.

It was a special homecoming for many who loved the Kiwi yachtsman, and the timing was extraordinary.

"I think what makes the return so special is the fact that we've just won the America's Cup, the boat's coming back in today and it's Sir Peter Blake leadership week next week," Jacob Anderson, project manager of the Sir Peter Blake Trust, said.

On Friday, Newshub revealed previously unseen footage of Sir Peter and his crew as he sailed the boat out of Auckland's harbour. Like then, Saturday was moody and overcast, with only those brave enough coming out to join the welcoming party.

Other iconic boats, like the Spirit of New Zealand and Steinlager 2, joined the flotilla to welcome her home.

At the helm of the boat Sir Peter sailed to victory in the Whitbread Around The World race was Alistair Moore. He was part of his Seamaster crew in the Amazon when Sir Peter was killed and went on to marry his daughter, Sarah-Jane.

"It was an emotional day, sort of bittersweet, a lot of questions of, 'What if?'," Mr Moore said.

"What if Blakey hadn't picked up that gun? What if those guys hadn't have turned up that night? Where would we be now?

"Sarah-Jane is having a rough time; she's emotional and rightly so. It's left a huge hole in her life more than anybody."

A crowd gathered in the Viaduct to welcome in the boat Sir Peter loved so dearly. They and others will get the chance to go on board for the next week, as it's docked at the Viaduct before its next voyage.


Contact Newshub with your story tips: