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U.S. Coast Guard halts search for missing British yachtsman

May 1, 2013 at 3:15 PM

HONOLULU, May 1 (UPI) -- A British sailor who fell from his yacht in mid-Pacific has been given up for dead, officials say.

The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Navy said the search for Luke Stimson was suspended after 50 hours of combing the area failed to find any trace of him, the London Evening Standard reported Wednesday. Stimson, 38, was about 2,000 miles west of Hawaii when he went overboard Sunday.

Laura Vernon, 39, Stimson's fiancee, was also on board the boat. Vernon, who is pregnant, used a satellite phone to summon help.

"Suspending a search is never an easy decision, nor is it one that is made quickly," the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu said.

Stimson was Asian director of David Austin Roses, the company founded by one of England's most eminent rose breeders and, like Stimson, a resident of Shropshire. Stimson had been living in Japan for three years and named his 38-foot boat Jonetsu, a Japanese word meaning "passion for life."

Mary Jackson, who lives near Stimson's home in Shifnal, Shropshire, said his enthusiasm for sailing was well-known.

He worked away from home a lot but often told me he was off sailing again," she told the Standard. "He'd been taking exams to get certificates."

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