Missing Yachtsmen: Families Pay Tribute Cheeki Rafiki Crew

The family of one of the Cheeki Rafiki's missing British yachtsmen have said they take some comfort in the fact that he was doing something "he really loved".

Hopes of finding the four men, who were sailing across the Atlantic Ocean, faded on Friday after the capsized vessel was found with its life raft still on board.

The discovery led to the US Coast Guard calling off its search for experienced captain Andrew Bridge, 22, from Farnham, Surrey, and crew members Steve Warren, 52, from Bridgwater, Somerset, Paul Goslin, 56, from West Camel, Somerset, and James Male, 23, from Southampton.

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

Paying tribute to Mr Male, his family released a statement which read: "We are deeply saddened by Friday's news and struggling to come to terms with the fact that James is missing.

"James was a passionate sailor, surfer, kayaker and all round water sport enthusiast as well as being a keen snowboarder and outdoor instructor.

"He loved being in the outdoors and on the water teaching new skills to people. We must therefore try to take some comfort in the knowledge that he was doing something he really loved."

The statement continued: "The past week has been a very difficult one for all the families and we have drawn strength from each other and hopefully we can continue to do so.

"James would have been amazed by the overwhelming support shown to us all by the public, which has made this week slightly easier to bear."

The relatives thanked the UK Government and Foreign Office for its support, saying it had been "second to none".

Mr Male's family acknowledged the support and respect the media had shown, but asked that they are now given "the space we need to remember James with our own family and friends, in private".

James Male's family said he was 'a passionate sailor, surfer, kayaker and all round water sport enthusiast'

Earlier the Foreign Office released a statement from Mr Goslin's family in which they paid tribute to their wonderful "husband, son, father and grandfather", stating they were struggling coming to terms with the fact he will not "be found alive and returned home" to them.

The statement read: "Paul was deeply loving and exceptionally intelligent and we know will be missed by everyone that knew him.

"Paul had been a passionate sailor for many years and loved everything to do with the water. He'd been talking about sailing across the Atlantic for many years. We are, therefore, trying to take some comfort in the knowledge that he was fulfilling one of his lifelong dreams."

It went on: "Paul would have been humbled by the immense support shown to us all by the public, which has made this difficult week slightly easier to bear. On behalf of Paul, we'd like to thank everyone that showed their support in different ways in the past week."

Both families offered their gratitude to the US and Canadian Coast Guards, the US Navy, the RAF, the merchant vessels and smaller yachts that took part in the search and sailed through the area.

The men were on board the 40ft yacht when it is thought to have run into trouble around 620 miles east of Cape Cod on May 15 as it was sailing back to the UK from a regatta in Antigua.

The US Coast Guard resumed its search for the men on Tuesday, having previously suspended it after scouring 4,000 square miles of the Atlantic, following a UK petition signed by 200,000 people and pressure from the British Government.

After teams from the US, Canada and the UK searched an additional 21,000 square miles of sea, the hunt was finally called off.

The upturned yacht was discovered in the Atlantic Ocean about 1,000 miles east of Cape Cod in Massachusetts with its cabin completely flooded and its windows shattered. There was no sign of survivors.

Underwater imagery taken by a swimmer from a US Navy warship showed the life raft clearly stowed in place, indicating it had not been deployed in an emergency.

Prime Minister David Cameron said his "thoughts are with the families and friends of the crew".

Mr Bridge's family said in a statement that they were "obviously shocked and deeply saddened by the news".

They added that he would be "dearly missed by everyone who knew him", and described how they were "overwhelmed and strengthened by the public support".

A statement on behalf of Mr Warren's family said they were "very sad" and asked for their privacy to be respected.