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Sail-World.com : What happened? Devastating news from the Cheeki Rafiki
What happened? Devastating news from the Cheeki Rafiki

'The crew of the Cheeki Rafiki, clockwise from top left: Paul Goslin, James Male, Andrew Bridge and Steve Warren'    The Telegraph

This last week was a harrowing one on a whole lot of levels as the news of the disappearance of the four British sailors skipper Andrew Bridge, 22, James Male, 23, Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56 delivering the 40 foot yacht Cheeki Rafiki from Antigua Sailing Week back to Southampton.

Armed with the knowledge that the crew has at least some warning their boat was in trouble it was widely believed that the sailors would have managed to step up into their 12 man life raft.

As a result the search cessation after 53 hours created an outcry with almost 200,000 people signing a petition asking the USCG to start the search again.

Less than 48 hours after the search resumed, almost a week after the initial EPIRB signals came the awful news that the life raft was still nested astern behind the wheel aboard the upturned boat.

Cheeki Rafiki - keel missing -  US Navy  

Cheeki Rafiki - keel missing -  US Navy  

To see on Twitter the U.S.Navy image of the (missing) keel space with laminate stripped away showing that the loss of the Cheeki Rafiki keel and resultant capsize may have very sudden and the life raft was still on board, was a devastating shock. Our heart go out to families.

For some of us, who had lived through such circumstances it was a haunting and harrowing week too.

Having been rolled in the 1998 Hobart, losing our helmsman Glynn Charles, myself and the residual eight crew faced the imminent sinking of Sword of Orion. While cutting away the rig wrapped around the stricken Sword of Orion, we managed to get our two life rafts on deck and attach then then to the boat on long lines, then we began bailing, to try and keep the sea at bay as the broken boat twisted itself to death.

Less than 18 hours later, we were plucked out of mid-Bass Strait by the Australian Navy Sea Kings. Less than a day later the Sword had sunk without a trace. The outcome of the six deaths in 1998 was multifaceted, with improvements in equipment, emergency procedures and sailor training. Those sailors did not die in vain, many lives have been saved as a result.

Having lived through that experience, the pain is palpable.

All we can do, is let the families of the four British sailors know that the sailing community feels their loss very deeply and trust that lessons will be learned so that their deaths will not be in vain but that other lives will be saved in the future.
The Cheeki Rafiki, pictured during Antigua Sailing Week, before it ran into difficulties returning to the UK. -  MailOnline  

Treacherous: Search teams battled 'treacherous' conditions - including winds in excess of 50 knots and 15 to 20 ft waves - to search for the missing yacht, pictured. - Has the Cheeki Rafiki been found? Debris spotted by volunteers in Atlantic near where yacht carrying British sailors disappeared -  MailOnline  


by Rob Kothe, Sail-World.com


  

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5:19 PM Mon 26 May 2014GMT


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