Missing yacht: 150,000 call for US coastguard to resume search for British sailors

 

More than 150,000 people have signed an online petition calling on US authorities to continue searching for four missing British sailors.

The experienced crew, aged between 22 and 56, were in a 40ft yacht called the Cheeki Rafiki when it capsized in the Atlantic Ocean on Thursday.

The US coastguard called off search efforts involving ships, planes and helicopters on Sunday morning in severe weather, to the dismay of the men’s families.

They hope that captain Andrew Bridge, 22, and crew members James Male, 23, Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56, could still be alive and in need of rescuing.

Mr Goslin's daughter, Claire, wrote on the petition: “One of the sailors is my dad and we cannot give up! He is my world and we need to start this search again!”

Gemma Townsend added: “My uncle is on board. We mustn't give up. Two days searching is not enough when people have survived many months on life rafts.”

Mr Warren’s sister Kay Coombes said that she and their mother, Margaret Warren, were convinced that he was alive but desperately needed to be found.

The 46-year-old said: “It's an utter nightmare, we are grateful for the US and Canadian coastguards for what they have done so far, but it's stopped too soon after two days, it's not long enough, we believe they are still alive.

Paul Goslin and James Male are experienced sailors Paul Goslin and James Male are experienced sailors "They are four strong-minded, physically strong sailors, they knew they were in difficulties and had every opportunity to get into the life raft which would have had provisions for several days. But if no-one is looking for them, they won't be found."

She added: "Everyone is just trying to put pressure on the US Coast Guard using every channel possible. They said they would only continue the search when any debris was found but if no-one is looking how can they find it? There are only passing ships in a very big ocean."

Mr Bridge, from Farnham, Surrey, was being paid by Southampton-based yacht training and charter company Stormforce Coaching for his role as captain.

Andrew Bridge and Steve Warren are experienced sailors Andrew Bridge and Steve Warren are experienced sailors He had taken part in a regatta in Antigua with Mr Goslin, from West Camel, Somerset, Mr Warren, from Bridgwater, also in Somerset, and Mr Male, from Southampton, all described as ”very experienced offshore yachtsmen“.

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, is the local MP for Mr Bridge and has appealed to the US Coast Guard not to give up.

Entrepreneur and adventurer Sir Richard Branson called on vessels in the area to keep a lookout.

The Cheeki Rafiki ran into difficulties about 620 miles east of Cape Cod in Massachusetts while returning to the UK from Antigua Week.

Contact with the yacht was lost in the early hours of Friday.

The US coastguard, Canadian aircraft and three merchant vessels searched for them throughout Friday and Saturday but called off efforts on Sunday at 5am local time when conditions worsened.

Some 4,000 square miles were scanned for the "very well-equipped" vessel's two location GPS beacons until no more transmissions were received from the devices, which have a short battery life.

On Saturday, a cargo vessel helping with the search photographed an overturned hull which matched the description of the Cheeki Rafiki but reported no signs of people on board.

Additional reporting by PA

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