Brazilian police 'have arrested seven men' in the hunt for the killers of Sir Peter Blake

Brazilian police have arrested seven men in connection with the killing of yachting hero Sir Peter Blake, who was gunned down aboard his boat Seamaster in the River Amazon on Wednesday.

According to Blake’s business partner Alan Sefton ‘verbal’ confirmation of the arrests had been received at the Eastleigh, Hants base of Blake Expeditions, the environmental research company run by the pair.

Blake, 53, was killed when, armed with a rifle, he went to the defence of his crew who were being robbed by a gang of eight hooded pirates, known as ‘water rats’.

He died instantly after being shot through the heart, two other members of his crew were also injured but not fatally. The gang made off with several Omega watches, an outboard motor and two cameras.

Ironically Omega had been sponsoring Blake’s foray into the Third World Amazon basin to monitor pollution and global warming in his 110ft yacht.

Blake contested every Whitbread Round the World Race from its inauguration in 1973 until his victory with Steinlager 2 in 1990. In 1994 he won the non-stop around the world Jules Verne Trophy with co-skipper Sir Robin Knox-Johnston on the catamaran ENZA NZ in a record time of 74 days, 22 hours, 17 minutes and 22 seconds.

The following year he formed Team New Zealand with Alan Sefton and won the America’s Cup. In 2000 with Blake still in charge, Team New Zealand successfully defended the Cup.