BBC News – Families want search for UK yacht to resume

James Male, Andrew Bridge, Steve Warren, Paul GoslinJames Male, Andrew Bridge, Steve Warren and Paul Goslin (l-r) are all experienced yachtsmen

The families of four British sailors missing since their yacht capsized in the Atlantic Ocean have appealed to the US Coastguard to resume their search.

Contact with the men was lost on Friday after they reported running into difficulties about 1,000 miles (1,600km) off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

The US Coastguard-led air and sea search was called off on Sunday.

But MP Caroline Nokes said the families of the men were “absolutely convinced” they could still be alive.

‘Saturated area’

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) named the four crew members as Andrew Bridge, 21, from Farnham, Surrey, the yacht’s skipper; Paul Goslin, 56, from West Camel, Somerset; Steve Warren, 52, from Bridgwater, Somerset, and 23-year-old James Male, from Southampton.

They were returning from a Caribbean sailing event when their boat, the Cheeky Rafiki, began taking on water.

Ms Nokes, the Conservative MP for Romsey and Southampton North, said the men were well-equipped and trained for an emergency.

Cheeki RafikiThe Cheeki Rafiki, seen here in a photograph issued by the Royal Yachting Association, had taken part in Antigua Sailing Week

She said: “The families are very clear that the yachtsmen were very experienced, they were well trained for this eventuality and their belief is that they would have made it into the life raft safely.”

She also said she had been in contact with the Foreign Office and it was “investigating every avenue it can do” to try to encourage the US Coastguard to act for longer.

The families were “desperately keen that the search be resumed, that although conditions are not good they’re better than they were when the search started”, she added.”

Holding out hope

Mr Warren’s sister Kay Coombes told the BBC: “We appreciate everything that the US coastguard and the Canadian coastguard has already done but we would just like them to search a little bit longer.”

She described the crew as “very strong” and said she believed they managed to escape to a life raft.



Caroline Nokes

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MP Caroline Nokes: “The yachtsmen were very experienced and well-trained for this eventuality”

Mr Bridge’s aunt Georgina Bridge told Sky News: “We are holding out great hope that Andrew and the guys on board Cheeki Rafiki will be found.

“We are hopeful that they were able to launch a life raft and that they are still on board that, so we would just really like the search to be resumed.”

Speaking to the Times, Mr Male’s father Graham Male said: “We just want them to continue searching.”

Robin Knox Johnston, President of the Sail Training Association, said it was possible the men could still be alive.

He said life rafts were designed to be accessible in emergency situations and it was “very likely” they could have escaped.

Sea conditions

The crew ran into difficulties on Thursday while returning from Antigua Sailing Week.

They were delivering the vessel back after it participated in the week – one of the world’s top regattas – when it started taking on water.

The RYA said typical supplies on a life raft would include survival suits, water, food, flares and a first aid kit.

Map showing search area for yachtThe search took place over more than 4,100 square miles in the mid-Atlantic

Three US and Canadian aircraft and three merchant vessels looked for them on Friday and Saturday.

The US Coastguard said the search area had involved approximately 4,146 square miles and it was “extremely disappointed” not to have found the sailors.

Winds at the start of the search were said to have been blowing at more than 50mph, the sea reached heights of up to 20ft and visibility was reduced to under a mile.

The Foreign Office confirmed it was aware of the missing yacht: “We are in contact with the US Coastguard and have offered consular assistance to the families.”

19 May 2014 | 9:37 am – Source: bbc.co.uk
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