THE search for four sailors, including two from Somerset, who have been missing in the Atlantic for over a week since their boat began taking in water, has been called off.

The US Coast Guard said the upturned hull of the Cheeki Rafiki racing yacht had been found, with its life raft still attached, and no sign of the four crew.

Paul Goslin, from West Camel, Steve Warren, from Bridgwater, Andrew Bridge, from Farnham, and James Male, from Hampshire, were sailing back to the UK from a regatta in Antigua, when they got into difficulty on Thursday last week.

A US Coast Guard spokesman said: "The US Coast Guard has confirmed the life raft aboard the capsized sailing vessel Cheeki Rafiki was secured in its storage space in the aft portion of the boat, Friday, indicating it was not used for emergency purposes."

Mr Warren's family said in a statement: "We are very sad that the US has now suspended the search for Stephen and his friends.

"From the beginning we, together with the other families involved, have continued to hold out hope that he would be found alive."

The statement paid tribute to the US Coast Guard for leading an "exceptional search", adding: "This is now an incredibly difficult time for all the family.

"We would therefore request that we are given privacy to come to terms with today's decision."