Father recalls 'harrowing' moment he found out his son was lost at sea

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The father of one of four crew members who died when the Cheeki Rafiki capsized mid-Atlantic has told a court of the "harrowing" moment when he found out his son had been lost at sea.

The yacht lost its keel as the crew were returning the 40ft vessel from Antigua to the UK in May 2014 when it got into trouble more than 700 miles from Nova Scotia.

The four who died were skipper Andrew Bridge, 22, from Farnham in Surrey, James Male, 22, from Southampton, Steve Warren, 52, and Paul Goslin, 56, both from Somerset.

Douglas Innes, 42, director of Stormforce Coaching Limited, faces four counts of manslaughter by gross negligence at Winchester Crown Court, which he denies.

Innes, of Whitworth Crescent, Southampton, and his company Stormforce Coaching also both deny failing to operate the Cheeki Rafiki in a safe manner.

Graham Male, the father of James, told the jury his son had worked as an unpaid intern for Stormforce Coaching and had flown out to Antigua to crew the yacht for racing for two weeks before sailing it back to the UK.

He described how his son had been "apprehensive but excited" before the voyage but it was only on May 16 that Mr Male found out the yacht was in difficulty when his wife received a call from Innes.

He said he spoke to Innes later and described him as "perfectly calm" as he told him "there was no panic on board".

Mr Male said they had been kept informed by the US coast guard about the search, and after the yacht was found by the US warship USS Oscar Austin they were sent a photograph of the yacht's life raft still on board the up-turned yacht.

He said: "It was surreal, just seeing that life raft, I just couldn't believe it, I remember saying 'I have seen enough'. It was harrowing, it was as if the photo was in slow motion, I remember going back to the family, I knew as soon as I saw that life raft in there."

Mr Male, an engineer, told the court he had been concerned that Stormforce Coaching did not have appropriate tools back in the UK when his son told him they used a "multi-tool" for works.

He said they had paid for his son to fly to Antigua for the work there and his son told them that he had to pay for his own food until the customers arrived to sail the yacht.

His son sent him a message saying: "I am low on money but hope to pull through."

Nigel Lickley QC, prosecuting, has told the trial that Innes is accused of "cost-cutting" and allowing the Cheeki Rafiki to sail back to the UK in a "neglected" state and without being inspected for its required coding - seaworthiness certificate - which he said had lapsed.

The trial continues.