THE wife of a sailor who went missing in the North Atlantic is to abseil down the Spinnaker Tower in his memory.
James Male, 22, from Romsey, was one of four members of a crew that disappeared after their 40ft, Southampton-based Cheeki Rafiki yacht ran into difficulties 620 miles east of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, USA, on May 15 while returning to the UK from a regatta in Antigua.
The upturned hull of the yacht has been found but there has been no sign of the crew, and a search for them has now been called off.
Mr Male’s wife Adele Miller will take on the challenge at the Portsmouth landmark to raise money for the RNLI.
Meanwhile, Andrew Bridge, 21, who was also part of the crew, had been intending to take part in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race this August in the Cheeki Rafiki.
His friends Nicky Evans, Roger Swift and Kate Dawes, 33, from Putney, south west London, who would have crewed with him, have decided to go ahead with the plan in a different yacht as a memorial to their skipper and the other men lost at sea, who as well as James and Andrew were Paul Goslin, 56, from West Camel, Somerset, and Steve Warren, 52, from Bridgwater, Somerset.
They will also raise money for the RNLI and their fundraising total has already topped £25,000.
The race crew includes Miss Evans, 38, a sign language interpreter from Belvedere, south east London, who set up the petition calling on the US Coastguard to resume its search for the Cheeki Rafiki, which was signed by 243,095 people.
Mr Swift, a retired police officer from Kent, said: ‘We wanted to do the Round Britain and Ireland Race in memory of Andy who should have been with us. It will be a bittersweet occasion for us.
‘Even just getting together to train for the first time next weekend will be bittersweet.
‘Cheeki Rafiki should have been back in her home port of Southampton and we should have been out training on her with Andy.
‘I think it will be particularly hard for Nicky as when we last sailed with Andy she was very ill and he really looked after her.
‘We are just overwhelmed, humbled really, by how much people have donated already.
‘It’s something we will really be thinking about when we set off. We are looking forward to doing this for Andy and hopefully raising even more.’
Mr Swift, 58, added: ‘The RNLI is the most obvious charity under the circumstances; we are all passionate believers in the RNLI tradition of lifesaving.
‘I remember from the Fastnet race, that when you are out on a boat in the middle of the night and the weather’s bad, it’s a very comforting thought knowing that the RNLI are not that far away should you need help.
‘When we are taking part in the Round Britain and Ireland Race, and we’re out on the west coast of Ireland or up round the Shetlands, we will know the RNLI is out there too.’
As well as the team’s fundraising efforts, the RNLI has set up a tribute fund to promote the work of the RNLI and to pay for personal locator beacons for its crews.
Cressida Goslin, wife of Mr Goslin, said: ‘I’m grateful to all those ensuring that Paul, James, Steve and Andy are not forgotten.
‘We’ve set up our own Forever by the Sea fund to raise money for the RNLI in memory of our loved ones. Others, like Nicky Evans and her Round Britain and Ireland crew, are also raising money for the RNLI in their memory.
‘We’ve been overwhelmed with people’s responses to the loss of the Cheeki Rafiki, both during the search and now with people donating so generously.
‘It means a great deal to us and we’d like to say thank you to everyone for their efforts.’