Chinese mariner on record-breaking voyage goes missing, vessel found

By YAN DONGJIE in Honolulu | | 2016-10-27 08:36

US Coast Guard rescue teams were still searching on Wednesday for Chinese mariner Guo Chuan, 50, who was reported missing on Tuesday during his non-stop trans-Pacific solo sailing attempt.

Chinese mariner on record-breaking voyage goes missing, vessel found

Chinese mariner Guo Chuan sets sail of his trimaran in San Francisco, US on Oct 17, 2016, aiming to set a new solo non-stop trans-Pacific sailing world record from San Francisco to Shanghai. [Photo/IC] 

Wednesday Beijing time, Guo's vessel was found about 620 miles northwest of Hawaii's main island of Oahu. The airborne search team did not see Guo on deck, but the main lateen sail of the 97-foot trimaran was broken off in the water.

"It's hard to say how many percentage but it could be true that the mariner is onboard alive on the vessel," said Tara Molle, a spokesperson for Coast Guard Honolulu.

The Coast Guard sent an HC-130 Hercules, a long-range surveillance and transport aircraft, to the area where Guo's vessel was sending a location signal. The crew tried to communicate with Guo via wireless walkie-talkie, but failed.

Two rescue vessels have been sent by the US Navy and crews will access and board Guo's vessel to investigate, according to the Consulate-General of China in Los Angeles.

"It takes a couple of hours for our aircraft to arrive at that area, and way longer for the vessels," said Molle, adding that the aircraft crew had been working continuously since Tuesday afternoon local time except for refuels.

Guo set sail of his trimaran Qingdao China from San Francisco's iconic Golden Gate Bridge on Oct 18 for Shanghai hoping to set a new sailing world record for solo crossing.

The voyage was planned to be about 7,000 nautical miles long and take about 20 days.

Tuesday afternoon Beijing time, one week after departure, Guo spoke on the phone with his support team telling them that all was good and he expected to arrive in Shanghai on Nov 5 or 6.

Shortly after the call, the GPS on Guo's boat reported a sudden loss of speed, Guo's support team reported.

"After that, we haven't gotten through to or heard from Guo via phone calls or internet messages," said a team member.

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