UK & World News

  • 19 May 2014, 3:12

Four British Yachtsmen Feared Dead In Atlantic

Four Britons are thought to have died after the yacht they were sailing from the Caribbean to the UK capsized in the mid-Atlantic Ocean.

The crew was returning from Antigua Sailing Week in a 40ft performance racer cruiser when it ran into difficulties 620 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts on Thursday.

Contact with Andrew Bridge, 21, James Male, 23, Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56, was lost in the early hours of Friday while they were diverting to the Azores.

US and Canadian aircraft as well as merchant vessels carried out a search on Friday and Saturday, but now the operation has been called off.

The Britons had been sailing the boat, called the Cheeki Rafiki, back from Antigua for yacht training and charter company Stormforce Coaching when they went missing.

Director Doug Innes said the vessel had first started taking on water on Thursday.

But he said the company had been in contact with the skipper at that time, and the crew were keeping the situation stable.

He said it was possible the crew took to a life raft after contact was lost.

Mr Innes added: "Although the search efforts co-ordinated ... were exceptional we are devastated that the search has now been called off so soon."

He went on: "Our thoughts are with the four yachtsmen and their families and we hope and pray for them all."

Mr Bridge's aunt, Georgina Bridge, said that her nephew was the captain on the yacht and was travelling back from taking part with the three other yachtsmen in the Antigua Week regatta.

She told Sky News: "Obviously the family are really concerned that the search has been suspended and we are really hoping that it will be resumed.

"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."

A US Coastguard spokesman two US and one Canadian aircraft had been helped by three commercial vessels until the search  ended at 5am local time.

He said: "We searched with multiple assets over 4,000 square miles for pings from the vessel's personal locator beacons.

"After receiving no more transmissions we believe that we would have found them by now if we were going to find them.

"These beacons are small devices and the ones being used have a very short battery life."

Mr Bridge, who is from Farnham in Surrey, was being paid by Stormforce for his role on the yacht, a spokeswoman for the firm said.

But Mr Goslin, from West Camel, Somerset, Mr Warren, from Bridgwater, Somerset, and Mr Male, from Southampton, were also described as "very experienced offshore yachtsmen".

Antigua Week is regarded as one of the world's top regattas.

Stormforce, which was acting as the managing agent for the Cheeki Rafiki, is based in Southampton.

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