US visas not required by Britons unless on their own boats

Single-handed transatlantic sailor Peter Keig’s latest adventure: the OSTAR 2005 has been jeopardised by confusion over US visa requirements.

Peter, 50, a circumnavigator and holder of several prestigious offshore sailing records, was told by the US Consulate in his hometown, Belfast, that he did not require a visa to compete in the race which sets off from Plymouth on 29 May.

Race organisers from the Royal Western Yacht Club also believed that competitors did not require visas as sailors in last year’s Offshore Challenge transatlantic race to Boston had not required them.

Just three weeks ago they discovered that visas ARE now required and the race entry rules were changed to reflect this. Other contestants made last minute efforts to get visas as did Peter, but a breakdown in communication between the Belfast Consulate and the London US Embassy means he now has no time to get the required paperwork before the race.