Rescue crews have been involved in a major search for a man missing after he failed to return home from a boat trip

A major search operation has taken place for a missing yachtsman who failed to return home from a sailing trip on Sunday.

Rescue crews were launched late yesterday evening after a 70ft Sunseeker was found drifting on the inside of the eastern breakwater of Brighton Marina at 11.30pm.

Fears for Len King’s safety grew after an RNLI lifeboat crew member boarded the vessel to find no sign of anyone, despite instruments being on and the engines still warm.

RNLI crews from Newhaven and Shoreham carried out extensive shoreline searches around Brighton Marina, including the eastern and western arms of the marina.

Brighton and Shoreham inshore lifeboats searched all the way around the marina, including in and out of every pontoon.

Rescue crews have also looked miles off shore east and west of the marina and out to the middle of the Channel.

Despite their efforts, the 74-year-old has not been found and the search was suspended on Monday morning.

Talking of his disappearance his wife Stephanie, said: “Len is an experienced yachtsman and has been sailing since he was at least 20. Normally we go together but during the week if its calm weather he may go off by himself. He went off just before lunch. I was expecting him home for dinner time. I phoned him several times but his phone was unable to connect so I thought he was
on his way back. I called the person who has a boat next to us and he thought we were away.

“I can’t understand what has happened. He is a very experienced yachtsman. He has all his equipment doubled up and is always careful. That is the way he runs things.”

Inspector Roy Apps, said: “It is an anxious time for the family. The search is currently suspended and we are liaising with his family as we investigate the circumstances of his disappearance.

“An experienced seaman Mr King had left Brighton Marina on his yacht on Sunday afternoon and it is unclear as to what has happened to him. A friend reported him missing to the Coastguard at around 9.50pm last night as he had not returned home.

His Sunseeker boat was then found unmanned near the harbour wall at Brighton Marina.

“We are at an early stage of our investigation and we are liaising closely with Mr King’s family while we make enquiries.”

Rescue crews were faced with heavy raing and passing thunderstorms as they searched for Mr King last night, making things more challenging than normal.

Brighton RNLI lifeboat operations manager Roger Cohen, said conditions for the volunteers overnight were “challenging”.

“At the moment this is something of a mystery – the Sunseeker was found within the eastern breakwater of the marina, banging up against the wall. When my crew boarded they found evidence it had recently been operation, but no sign of anyone.

“Judging by the instruments and passage plans we found, the yachtsman appears to be skilled and experience. Obviously at this moment we are focusing on the search and hoping for a positive outcome for all concerned.”


Image credit: RNLI