THE man at the centre of the Watchet Marina controversy and whose four other marinas are in administration with debts of more than £16 million, is looking for crew to help take his £100,000 yacht on two of the world’s most prestigious trans-Atlantic sailing rallies.

Christopher Odling-Smee, sole director of the Marine and Property Group (MPG), which operates Watchet Marina and four Welsh marinas, is currently negotiating with Somerset Council for a 200-year lease on the town’s marina, which now contains fewer than 40 boats and has no staff or basic facilities.

According to an advertisement on the Ocean Crew Link website, he intends to take time off this year and compete in the World Cruising Club’s Atlantic Rally for Cruisers from Europe to the Caribbean, and the ARC Europe rally, which sails in the opposite direction.

They are major events on the yachting calendar with up to 300 boats sailing a 2,800-mile course and attracting top yachtsmen from 20 countries.

A Beneteau Oceanis 461 yacht similar to one Christopher Odling-Smee plans to race across the Atlantic.
A Beneteau Oceanis 461 yacht similar to one Christopher Odling-Smee plans to race across the Atlantic. ( )

Mr Odling-Smee intends to take part in the events in his Beneteau Oceanis 461 cruiser Sanamiru, based in Cardiff Marina.

Although 25 years old, the yacht was given an extensive refit by MPG’s marine services team.

Looking for crew for the rallies, Mr Odling-Smee said: “Following her graduation from university in 2024, my daughter and I are planning to sail the ARC and ARC Europe in 2024 and 2025 in our yacht Sanamiru.

“We are pretty international. We live in SwitzerLand, sail around the UK, and have four different nationalities between the two of us.

“We are ‘young and fun’, relaxed and easy, and are super excited about our plans.

“We are looking for one or two crew to help us along and share the adventure with us.”

This week, it appeared Mr Odling-Smee could be preparing an attempt to run Watchet Marina and two marinas in Wales under new company names.

He set up three new companies on February 10, 11, and 12 with himself named as sole director of each.

A company called The Marine Group Holdings Ltd (MGH) was named as having significant control over the newly-registered enterprises.

Mr Odling-Smee is also MGH’s sole director and the person named as having significant control over it.

The three new companies registered by Mr Odling-Smee in February were W Marina Ltd, BP Marina Ltd, and PD Marina Ltd.

It is believed that the ‘W’ represents ‘Watchet’ and the ‘BP’ and ‘PD’ represent Burry Port and Port Dinorwic, which are two of four Welsh marinas run by Mr Odling-Smee’s companies which went into administration last summer. 

The correspondence address of the three new companies was Cardiff Marine Village, Penarth Road, Cardiff, the same as that for MGH.

MGH was registered by Mr Odling-Smee on April 28 last year, three days after MPG went into administration and six weeks before administrators started to be appointed to his four Welsh marinas.

Mr Odling-Smee has told the West Somerset Free Press he does not wish to comment.