Cheeki Rafiki
The missing yacht, 'Cheeki Rafiki', in a catalogue image

Four British citizens are missing, feared drowned, after their yacht capsized in the Caribbean. The Foreign Office has confirmed that the Cheeki Rafiki got into difficulty on Thursday en route home from Antigua Sailing Week. On Friday the boat diverted to the Azores and contact was lost.

The Cheeki Rafiki was chartered from Southampton-based Stormforce Coaching. In a press release on its website Principal and Director Doug Innes said: "The yacht Cheeki Rafiki, a Beneteau First 40.7 was on passage from the Caribbean to the UK with a crew of four yachtsmen. On Thursday she started taking on water. We were in contact with the skipper and at the time the yacht and crew were keeping the situation stable. They had not been able to ascertain where the water ingress was from and were diverting to the Azores.

"Unfortunately we lost contact during the early hours of Friday morning and we believe the crew abandoned to the life raft. Search and Rescue authorities were mobilised and a mixture of Canadian and US aircraft along with merchant vessels searched throughout Friday and Saturday. 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.

"Our thoughts are with the four yachtsmen and their families and we hope and pray for them all."

In a Facebook posting on 14 May, shortly before getting into difficulty, the crew wrote: "It has been 9 days at sea and we are all fairing well, the winds have been gentle whilst routing up northwards to the Eastern side of Bermuda. And yesterday we did it......we turned East for home, completing our first 1,000 miles was celebrated with a release of a cherished beach ball with a note inside, I hope it doesn't get home before us!"