THE US Coastguard says the search for four sailors missing in the Atlantic since last week will be called off if nothing is found by early tomorrow morning BST (Saturday, May 24).

Families of the men, who sent out an SOS when their yacht Cheeki Rafiki got into trouble heading home to England from Antigua, are disappointed by the announcement.

An RAF Hercules plane will continue looking for the men or any debris tomorrow.

The crew of the Cheeki Rafiki are Bridgwater born and bred Steve Warren, 52, from Wincanton; Paul Goslin, 56, from West Camel, Somerset; skipper Andrew Bridge, 22, from Surrey; and James Male, 22, from Hampshire.

The US Coastguard’s Capt Anthony Popiel has spoken to the yachtsmen's families and said the search would be abandoned at 3am tomorrow BST if there are “no further development”.

Mr Warren’s sister, Kay Coombes, from Bridgwater, said her family is disappointed, but they refuse to give up hope.

She said: “We're realistic. We know they can't search forever, and we know they can't survive forever out on the ocean. But we've not given up hope yet. So, while they're still searching, there's hope.”

The search has far focused on an area 1,000 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with boats and planes scouring 17,500 square miles of ocean.

The initial search was called off last weekend, but the US Coastguard agreed to look again after more than 200,000 people signed a petition and following pressure from the British Government and families of the four yachtsmen.

The men radioed in after the yacht starting taking on water and it is believed they abandoned ship and got into the life raft.