‘Challenging’ conditions for sea search

Shoreham RNLI's inshore lifeboat searching around the yacht in Brighton Marina
Shoreham RNLI's inshore lifeboat searching around the yacht in Brighton Marina

LIFEBOAT crews have spoken of the challenging conditions they faced while searching for a missing man.

The location of 74-year-old Alfriston yachtsman Len King remains a mystery.

Shoreham, Brighton and Newhaven RNLI were involved in major search for the missing yachtsman on Sunday evening.

Volunteer lifeboat crews spent the night at sea off the coast of Sussex searching for Mr King.

Brighton RNLI was tasked by Solent Coastguard to launch its inshore lifeboat at 11.30pm after a 70ft luxury motor vessel was discovered drifting within Brighton Marina.

Meanwhile, Mrs Stephanie King had contacted coastguards to report that her husband had failed to return home from a sailing trip.

The 70ft Sunseeker was found drifting on the inside of the eastern breakwater of Brighton Marina. Fears grew after a Brighton lifeboat crew member boarded it and found that despite instruments being on and the engines still warm, there was no sign of anyone onboard.

Solent Coastguard then requested the launch of Shoreham RNLI all-weather lifeboat and D-class inshore lifeboat just before midnight to participate in the search. They were joined by Newhaven RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat and land-based coastguard rescue teams.

RAF helicopter Rescue 125 was also initially involved in the search but was stood down because an active lightning storm in the area presented a danger.

After searching throughout the night, Shoreham, Brighton and Newhaven lifeboat crews were stood down at around 5.30am on Monday, but launched again at 7am at first light to recommence searching. Coastguard rescue helicopter 104 also took part in the search on Monday morning.

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

He added: “We had heavy rain with passing thunderstorms and fork lighting in Sussex throughout the night, making things even more challenging than they would normally be.

“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 operated, but no sign of anyone.

“Judging by the instruments and passage plans we found, the yachtsman appears to be skilled and experienced.”