A Chinese sailor has vanished in the Pacific Ocean after setting off from San Francisco in his trimaran. His fans continued to hold out hope, though the US announced it was suspending its search for him.
The US Coast Guard launched a search on Wednesday after releasing footage showing the sailor's 97-foot (30-meter) trimaran drifting unmanned hundreds of kilometers west of Hawaii.
Guo Chuan, 51, had set out from San Francisco for Shanghai on October 18 in an effort to break the solo-sailing trans-Pacific record.
Guo's team had contacted the US Coast Guard on Tuesday after having not made contact with him for 24 hours. "A search aircraft, sent from Honolulu, found the main sail in water, broken off the vessel, but didn't see Guo on the deck. All attempts to contact the sailor have failed," the team was quoted as saying by Chinese state news agency Xinhua.
The US Coast Guard confirmed it had been contacted to help search for him, adding that Guo was known for frequent contact with the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center China and was "not likely to miss scheduled calls."
However, after sending two ships to the site of Guo's trimaran, the Coast Guard announced later on Wednesday it was suspending the search. Crew members who went aboard Guo's vessel found only the sailor's life jacket.
In a statement, Captain Robert Hendrickson said, "Guo was a professional mariner with a deep passion for sailing...Our deepest condolences go out not only to his family and friends but also to his racing team and the sailing community."
Guo's vessel, the Qingdao China, remains adrift, and the sailor's team plans to cover it.
Guo already had two records to his name, and was aiming to beat the record set by Italian sailor Giovanni Soldini. His many fans remained hopeful on Thursday. "Praying and praying, you must return home safely," one post said.
blc/kl (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)