THE FATHER of a Hampshire sailor missing at sea has pleaded for authorities to restart the search for his son.
James Male, 23, is one of four Britions who went missing in the mid-Atlantic Ocean after their yacht capsized as it returned from a Caribbean regatta.
His father Graham believes his son can still be found safe and said he was working to get search efforts resumed.
A massive search and rescue operation was launched but after no success, it was called off over the weekend.
Speaking from the family home in Romsey, frustrated Mr Male said this was premature and urged search teams not to give up, believing his son is in a life raft.
“The search should continue,” he said.
“We're just doing all we can to get the search re-established because we know they're in the life raft out there.”
James and the three other sailors were onboard Cheeki Rafiki, which they were sailing for Southampton-based yacht and training charter company Stormforce Coaching, when they went missing.
They got into difficulties and started taking on water in the mid-Atlantic Ocean on Thursday as it returned from the Antigua Sailing Week regatta and capsized.
Contact with James, Andrew Bridge, 21, from Surrey, Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56, both from Somerset, was lost in the early hours of Friday while they were diverting to the Azores.
US and Canadian aircraft and merchant vessels looked for them throughout Friday and Saturday, but the search has now been called off.
A former Mountbatten School pupil, James has been sailing since he was seven and has worked for Stormforce Coaching, based at Shamrock Quay Marina, teaching sailing for a year.
Mr Male said search crews had found an upturned vessel in the search area believed to be the yacht and that two personal locator beacons had been let off in 24-hour intervals.
“They had time to prepare, the beacons were set off...which is rational thinking,” he added.
“That's not from somebody in the water, that's from somebody in a life raft.
“We're not talking about your average sailors, these guys are very qualified even though they're young.”
The family, who said they understood the search was called off due to lack of resources, has gathered at their home in Botley Road.
“We're all supporting each other and trying to get as much information as we can,” added Mr Male.
In a plea to rescue teams, Garry Miller, father of James' girlfriend Adele, 21, said: “There's four UK guys out there who need your help, keep searching for us - they're out there, they're alive.”
A US Coastguard spokesman said it had searched more than 4,000 square miles for pings from the vessel's personal locator beacons and believed they would have found them by now if they were going to find them at all.
Stormforce director Doug Innes said: ''Although the search efforts co-ordinated by Boston were exceptional we are devastated that the search has now been called off so soon.
''Our thoughts are with the four yachtsmen and their families and we hope and pray for them all.''
Meanwhile the Southampton sailing community remains hopeful James and his compatriots will be found safe and sound.
Darryl Goodwin, who has been sailing out of Shamrock Quay Marina for five years, said: “There are so many different challenges out in the water depending on where you are.
“Let's just hope that people carry on searching for as long as possible and they are found safe.”