Cape Cod, MA, United States (4E) – The U.S. Coast Guard on Sunday called off its participation in the search for four British yachtsmen who have been missing since Friday, when their vessel capsized in the mid-Atlantic.
Capt. Anthony Popiel, 1st Coast Guard District (1CGD) Chief of Response, cited the sighting Saturday by the Greek containership Maersk Kure of the overturned Cheeki Rafiki but not its crew. The 1CGD also cited distance and inclement weather for the suspension of the search for the sailors as winds were at 50 knots and sea waves at 50 feet.
The 40-foot Cheeki Rafiki finished competing in the Caribbean circuits and was sailing the Atlantic for about nine days to return to the U.K. when its crew reported Thursday it was taking on water. The yacht’s operators, Stormforce Coaching based in Southampton, Hampshire, reported to the U.S. Coast Guard Friday that it lost contact with the crew.
The 1CGD was able to prompt two merchant vessels to join the international search in a 4,146-square mile area, about 1,000 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. A Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, North Carolina also dispatched an HC-130 Hercules aircraft to the spot while a Canadian Air National Guard C-130 aircraft was deployed by the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The Hercules crew only saw small pieces of debris but no sign of the sailors namely Andrew Bridge, the 21-year-old skipper, James Male, 23, an intern, Paul Goslin, 56, and Steve Warren, 52. The yacht’s managing agent, Doug Innes believes the crew transferred to a life boat but other sources fear the crew might be trapped inside the vessel.
The families of the missing sailors are reportedly talking with the coast guards to restart the search and rescue operations.