THE families of four yachtsmen missing at sea say they will put pressure on the British Government to restart the search for the men.

The four sailors - James Male, Andrew Bridge, Steve Warren and Paul Goslin - went missing after their yacht Cheeki Rafiki capsized while it was returning to Southampton from the Caribbean.

US Coastguards searched a 4,000 square mile stretch of the Atlantic Ocean to find the men, but the search was called off over the weekend.

The sailors' families have called for the search to restart, and now say they are taking their fight to the top of the Government.

Darren Williams, uncle of 23-year-old James Male, who is from Romsey, said: “At the moment the consensus is that the only way to start the search again is to put pressure on the British Government to put pressure on the US Government.

“We have spoken to [Romsey and Southampton North MP] Caroline Nokes and we hope she will be able to speak to Foreign Secretary William Hague.

“We're positive they are still on a life raft and we can't praise the US Coastguards enough for what they have done, but we just feel the search was called off too early.”

Mr Williams, from Totton, said there had “mixed messages” in reports of why the Coastguards had called off the search.

While they understood it had been called off due to a lack of resources, Mr Williams said they had also heard reports it had been due to bad weather or the tiredness of pilots in aircraft and ships searching for the four men.

Daily Echo:

Heather McIlroy, headteacher at James' (above) former school, The Mountbatten School in Romsey, said “he was a very popular student who loved the outdoor life and played an active part in the wider life of the school.

“James's positivity and commitment served as a fine example to other students. We remain hopeful for a positive outcome.”

Thousands sign petition to get search restarted

• Over 9,000 people have signed a petition urging the US Coastguard to resume the search for the missing yacht crew.

The online petition on calls on the authorities to give the four sailors “another chance” and has so far attracted more than 9,900 signatures.

Click here to sign the petition.