Hopes fade for the four missing British sailors as search crews find the yacht's life raft never launched

The US Coast Guard has confirmed that the capsized
sailing vessel Cheeki Rafiki has been found in the Atlantic Ocean with its life raft still on board.

A US Navy ship discovered the hull of the yacht on Friday night, and
subsequent underwater imagery confirmed that the life raft was still
onboard the vessel, indicating that it had not been deployed for
emergency purposes.

The finding has diminished hopes that the four missing yachtsmen are still alive.

A US Coast Guard (USCG) spokesman said: ‘A US Navy warship smallboat crew and surface swimmer captured
underwater imagery clearly identifying the raft in its storage space on Friday.’

The image has been shared with and acknowledged by the families of the four missing crew members.

The missing yachtsmen are: skipper Andrew
Bridge, aged 21, from Farnham, Surrey; Paul Goslin, 56,
from West Camel, Somerset; Steve Warren, 52, from Bridgwater, Somerset,
and 23-year-old James Male, from Southampton.

A Navy surface swimmer was deployed to investigate the overturned boat
after a helicopter crew located it 1,000 miles offshore Massachusetts
and within the USCG’s search area.

The swimmer reported that the boat’s cabin was flooded and
windows were shattered, contributing to the complete flooding inside. 

The USCG announced on Thursday that search
operations would be suspended at midnight (5am GMT) yesterday, unless new
information or sightings suggested the crew would still be alive.

none of the developments indicating that to be the case, the search was
suspended, and an RAF Hercules search due to have continued throughout
Saturday will no longer take place.

The extensive search had included air crews from the USCG, US
Air Force, Canadian military, and Royal Air Force, plus the Coast Guard
Cutter Vigorous, a US Navy warship and helicopter, covering more than 17,540 square miles of

Yachts taking part in the ARC Europe event, also diverted
course to join the search efforts, along with many other merchant
vessels in the area.

‘Sincere condolences to the families’

Royal Yachting Association (RYA) CEO Sarah Treseder said: ‘It is extremely distressing that the two searches coordinated by the US
Coast Guard have not found the missing four crew of the Cheeki Rafiki;
Steve, Paul, James and Andrew.

‘All at the RYA offer their most sincere condolences to the families and
the friends of the missing crew in this most difficult of times.

‘Our thanks go to the US Coast Guard, the UK authorities and government
agencies with whom we have been in regular contact, as well as the
merchant vessels involved in the search and the yachting community.

‘Many yachts changed course to sail through the search area and those
that were able joined in the search effort. It has been a powerful
reflection of the spirit that binds the boating community.’

Pictures: The overturned hull of Cheeki Rafiki. Credit US Navy