“THOUGHTS and prayers” are with the families of two Somerset yachtsmen feared lost at sea in the mid-Atlantic after their vessel capsized in the Caribbean.
Steve Warren, 52, from Bridgwater, and Paul Goslin, 56, from Yeovil, are among the four missing British crewmembers of the Cheeki Rafiki.
The yacht ran into difficulties while sailing from a regatta in the Caribbean to the UK on Thursday, when it began taking on water. The United States Coast Guard says it has called off its active search.
Contact with Stormforce Coaching, a Southampton-based training and charter company, is said to have been lost in the early hours of Friday.
In a statement, the US Coast Guard said: “The Coast Guard has suspended its active search, pending further developments, for four sailors 1,000 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, at 5 a.m. Sunday.”
The statement continues: “Multiple crews from numerous nation's military branches and commercial vessels searched approximately 4,146 square miles for them.”
Mr Warren and Mr Goslin were joined on their sail by James Male, 23, and 21-year-old Andrew Bridge.
Doug Innes, principal and director of Stormforce Coaching, said: “We were in contact with the skipper and at the time the yacht and crew were keeping the situation stable.
“They had not been able to ascertain where the water ingress was from and were diverting to the Azores.
“Unfortunately we lost contact during the early hours of Friday morning and we believe the crew abandoned to the life raft.
“Search and Rescue authorities were mobilised and a mixture of Canadian and US aircraft along with merchant vessels searched throughout Friday and Saturday.
“Although the search efforts co-ordinated by Boston were exceptional we are devastated that search has been called off so soon after the abandonment to a life-raft.
“Our thoughts are with the four yachtsmen and their families and we hope and pray for them all.”
Captain Anthony Popiel, chief of response for the Boston-based 1st Coast Guard District, said: “We appreciate the assistance of the U.S. Air Force, Canada and the three merchant vessels helping us to conduct a thorough search so far from shore.
“We are extremely disappointed that we were not able to locate the sailors during the course of this extensive search. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families during this difficult time.”