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Coast Guard calls off search for missing UK yacht and crew

By Kevin Conlon, CNN
updated 8:03 AM EDT, Mon May 19, 2014
The crew of the Cheeki Rafiki, a 12-meter yacht headed to the United Kingdom from the Caribbean, contacted the shore to report that the yacht was taking on water on Friday, May 16. The crew of the Cheeki Rafiki, a 12-meter yacht headed to the United Kingdom from the Caribbean, contacted the shore to report that the yacht was taking on water on Friday, May 16.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Four British sailors are believed to have abandoned ship Friday
  • The 40-foot Cheeki Rafiki began taking on water Thursday
  • Coast Guard suspends efforts after searching more than 4000 square miles

(CNN) -- The U.S. Coast Guard said Sunday it has suspended its search for four British sailors missing since Friday.

The 40-foot (12 meters) Cheeki Rafiki was sailing from the Caribbean to the United Kingdom Thursday when it began taking on water, according to the yacht's managing agent.

"Unfortunately, we lost contact during the early hours of Friday morning, and we believe the crew abandoned to the life raft," Doug Innes said in a statement.

Royal Yachting Association identified the missing yachtsmen as skipper Andrew Bridge, 21; Steve Warren, 52; Paul Goslin, 56; and James Male, 23.

The Coast Guard's Boston-based 1st District coordinated a multinational search of 4,146 square miles for the crew.

"Although the search efforts coordinated by Boston were exceptional, we are devastated that search has been called off so soon after the abandonment to a life raft," Innes said.

The Coast Guard said in a Sunday news release that a merchant vessel located an overturned hull the day before that matched the description of the Cheeki Rafiki, but there was no sign of the sailors.

"We appreciate the assistance of the U.S. Air Force, Canadian and the three merchant vessels helping us to conduct a thorough search so far from shore," said Capt. Anthony Popiel, 1st Coast Guard District chief of response. "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."

Innes describes the Cheeki Rafiki on his company's website as "a performance racer/cruiser and suitable for both the inshore and offshore circuit" and that she is "equipped for trans-Atlantic sailing and racing."

Sailor so 'rich' he forgot $100k yacht

CNN's Haimy Assefa and Jo Shelley contributed to this report.

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