UK
20/05/2014 15:59 BST | Updated 20/05/2014 17:59 BST

Missing Yachtsmen Search Resumes After 190,000 People Sign Petition

The US Coast Guard has confirmed it has restarted the search for the four missing UK sailors whose yacht is feared to have capsized in the Atlantic Ocean, after their families begged them to keep looking for their loved ones.

The four yachtsmen have been missing since Friday when communication was lost with the Cheeki Rafiki, a 40ft Beneteau performance racer/cruiser yacht that they were sailing from Antigua to the UK.

The crew ran into difficulties some 620 miles east of Cape Cod in Massachusetts on Thursday.

missing yachtsmen

Left to right: Paul Gosling, James Male, Steve Warren and Andrew Bridge

They are experienced captain Andrew Bridge, 22, and crew members James Male, 23, Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56.

After initially calling off the search, the US Coast Guard said on Tuesday it had resumed it.

Dan Carpenter, son-in-law of Steve Warren, one of the missing men, said: "We are holding out hope. We are aware that it is still a long shot but while there is some hope, we are concentrating on that."

Nicola Evans, a friend of Andrew Bridge - one of the missing men - started a petition calling for the search to be resumed which has been signed by over 190,000 people.

She said: "We have just heard that the US Coast Guard will be resuming the search for the Cheeki Rafiki crew. This is amazing. I’m overwhelmed.

"When we started this campaign, we didn’t know who would listen, just that our boys were lost at sea and we refused to let go of hope.

"The support we have had has been incredible and we are so grateful for the US Coast Guard for listening to all 180,000 of us who signed the petition on change.org. The skill and expertise they have is invaluable, we will keep our hope alive until there is more news."

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "My thanks to the US Coastguard, which has resumed its search for our missing yachtsmen."

missing sailors

The families demonstrated to keep the search going

Contact with the yacht was lost in the early hours of Friday when the crew diverted to the Azores.

The coastguard, Canadian aircraft and three merchant vessels searched for them throughout Friday and Saturday but called off efforts on Sunday amid treacherous weather.

Graham Male, from Romsey, Hampshire, the father of crew member James Male, said: "We are absolutely over the moon.

"We haven't got the full details yet as we are in the process of travelling to the Foreign Office to receive those details.

"From what we have heard it's really what we have been campaigning for."

Male said he wished to thank everyone who had supported the online petition and added: "This is what we wanted, the public have been behind us, the celebrities have been behind us, the RYA (Royal Yachting Association) have been behind us, all the expert opinions, people who have been in this situation before."

He said that he was optimistic that they would now find out what has happened to the Cheeki Rafiki and added: "We have to get some kind of resolution now."

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, the first man to sail non-stop round the world, said: "The US Coast Guard and US Navy are the best at this, they have the most experience and they have the assets.

"I feel that we humans are better at surviving than is often reflected in statistics, so I think there should be just one more sweep downwind of where the hull was discovered, so that people can feel that everything that could be done has been done. Our thoughts are with the families of the crew."

Four-time Olympic champion Sir Ben Ainslie, the world's most successful Olympic sailor, told BBC News: "If there is a chance they are still out there, then we need to keep looking for them, so it is fantastic news that the US Coast Guard have agreed to get back out there and they should be commended for that."

He felt it was a moment when families and loved ones of the missing men might be able to think that "everything that possibly can be done is being done".

Sir Ben also noted that it had come after a "huge response" which had come nationally, internationally and from the local sailing community in the UK to continue searching for the sailors.

The families of the yachtsmen will travel to the US Embassy to meet the homeland attache after their meeting at the Foreign Office, Goslin's niece Gemma Townsend said.

She said the families would be offering their thanks for the resumption of the search. She said she did not know the name of the person due to meet them.