Search For Yacht Skipper Called Off

A large-scale air, land and sea search for the skipper of a yacht found beached with its engine still running but with no one on board, has been called off.

No sign of the man, named by police as 46-year-old Hany Nabil Mustapha, has been found.

A member of the public discovered his vessel, called Brigand, ashore with one of its sails up near Brighstone on the Isle of Wight.

Mr Mustapha, from Kingston-upon-Thames, south-west London, bought the small yacht in a private sale on Saturday morning and sailed from Poole Yacht Club in Dorset, where it was moored, at 10.05am the same day.

Dorset Police said that Mr Mustapha told staff at the yacht club that he intended to travel over to Hayling Island, near Portsmouth.

But following the discovery of his grounded yacht at 5.15pm on Saturday 27th October, a five-hour search was launched involving two Coastguard helicopters and RNLI lifeboats, while broadcasts were made to passing vessels to be alert to objects in the water.

Despite the extensive operation, no sign of anyone was found and it was called off late Saturday night, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said.

A fresh search began again at around 7am on Sunday for the skipper, but it was called off again with nothing found about eight hours later.

A Solent Coastguard spokesman said:

''The search has been suspended but if we get any new information that prompts us to an area then we will recommence a search.''

Police have released images of the yacht and of Mr Mustapha who was last seen wearing a white sailing jacket, sunglasses and a hat.

His yacht

Detective Inspector Pete Little, of Dorset Police, said:

''We are obviously concerned about Mr Mustapha and I am releasing an image of him in the hope that the public may be able to assist us in locating him.

''Mr Mustapha's boat was found with nobody on board and with the motor still running off the coast of the Isle of Wight.

''We know he left Poole Yacht Club at 10.05am on Saturday October 27, and we believe he was planning on sailing to Hayling Island, near Portsmouth.''

Anyone with any information or knowledge about Mr Mustapha's whereabouts should call Dorset Police on 101, quoting incident number 27:455.

Coastguards have urged people about to set out to sea to ensure they are familiar with their boat and equipment, have proper training and ensure their crew wear well-maintained and correctly fitting lifejackets.