Sir Robin Knox-Johnson urges US to resume search for missing yacht Cheeki Rafiki

Cheeki Rafiki''Picture: Royal Yachting Association/PA Wire
Cheeki Rafiki''Picture: Royal Yachting Association/PA Wire
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Gosport-based sailing legend Sir Robin Knox-Johnson today urged US authorities to resume the search for four missing British yachtsmen.

More than 100,000 people have signed an online petition calling for search to be renewed after the Hampshire-based yacht Cheeki Rafiki capsized in the Atlantic Ocean.

The crew of the 40ft boat ran into difficulties about 620 miles east of Cape Cod in Massachusetts on Thursday while returning to the UK from a regatta in Antigua.

Contact with the yacht was lost in the early hours of Friday when they diverted to the Azores. Although the hull has been spotted no life raft has been found.

Record-breaking sailor Sir Robin Knox-Johnson, who is based in Gosport, said the search must continue and the Coastguard must not give up on the four men who are all experienced, strong sailors.

Sir Robin said: ‘ They will be sitting there listening out for the sound of aircraft and they will be waving and just hoping they will be seen in the life raft. From a couple of thousand feet it does not look very big.’

Relatives of the four men - experienced captain Andrew Bridge, 22, and crew members James Male, 23 from Southampton, Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56 - have pleaded with the US Coastguard to resume their search and remain convinced that their loved ones are alive.

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

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

Mr Bridge was being paid by Southampton-based yacht training and charter company Stormforce Coaching for his role as captain, a spokeswoman for the firm said.

He had taken part in Antigua Week together with the crew who are all described as ‘very experienced offshore yachtsmen’.