DEBRIS has reportedly been found in the Atlantic Ocean in the area where the Hampshire-based yacht Cheeki Rafiki went missing.
The captain of a charter yacht taking part in the search told the BBC that details of what was spotted were passed on to the US Coast Guard.
The 40ft Cheeki Rafiki was sailing back to the UK from an Antigua regatta when it got into trouble and started taking on water 620 miles east of Cape Cod last Thursday.
The four men – experienced captain Andrew Bridge, 22, from Farnham in Surrey, and crew members James Male, 23, from Southampton, Steve Warren, 52, from Bridgwater, Somerset, and Paul Goslin, 56, from West Camel, Somerset – have not been seen or heard from since the early hours of Friday morning.
The US Coast Guard called off the search for the men 48 hours later, but resumed after a petition signed by politicians, celebrities and leading sailors attracted 200,000 signatures.
Patrick Michel, skipper of the Malisi, volunteering in the search for the missing Southampton-based yacht, told the BBC: ‘We are currently just in the north part of the search area, our third night out here, and we did see during this night a few little (pieces of) debris which I have reported to the US Coast Guard with the times and positions, so there is a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.’
A spokeswoman for the US Coast Guard said: ‘I can confirm that we have received reports (of debris) from the sailing vessel Malisi. They have found some debris in the search area. We can’t tell at this time if they are from the Cheeki Rafiki as there were no identifying marks on them.
‘The debris was a plank of wood and a small piece of floating foam, but there was nothing identifying the Cheeki Rafiki. Obviously it is a possibility, and we are definitely treating it very seriously and incorporating that into our search, but I can’t say for certain that it was from the Cheeki Rafiki.’
She said the report would be used in planning the search effort, but could not say whether vessels or aircraft would be diverted to the area.