Fresh team searches for miss­ing mariner

Chi­nese friends vow to ‘seize even slight­est chance’ of find­ing sailor

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By CHENMENGWEI chenmengwei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Ten days after the United States sus­pended its search for Guo Chuan, a record-break­ing Chi­nese sailor who went miss­ing while at­tempt­ing a solo cross­ing of the Pa­cific Ocean, Guo’s friends and rel­a­tives sent out a new res­cue team by air on Sun­day.

Led by a for­mer US Navy SEAL com­man­der, the plane, a Gulf­stream 3, with a team of seven ex­pe­ri­enced pro­fes­sion­als in mar­itime res­cue and sur­vival, de­parted from Hawaii’s main is­land of Oahu at about 3 am Bei­jing time on Sun­day. They plan to search ev­ery is­land around the area where Guo last made con­tact with his sup­port team, vow­ing to “seize even the slight­est chance” of find­ing him, ac­cord­ing to Richard Xie, who helped se­cure a suit­able air­craft and as­sem­ble the team.

The lat­est res­cue ef­fort was ini­ti­ated and spon­sored by the two alumni as­so­ci­a­tions of Bei­jing Univer­sity of Aero­nau­tics and Astro­nau­tics, and Pek­ing Univer­sity, where Guo spent his un­der­grad­u­ate and mas­ter’s de­gree years. Ex­perts in oceanog­ra­phy, me­te­o­rol­ogy and nav­i­ga­tion joined the team.

“Guo Chuan, hold up. I knowit’s hard for you. It’s hard for us, too. You’ve got to make it. We’re rush­ing to save you. Come on!” said Hao Guangqi, chief co­or­di­na­tor of the res­cue at­tempt and Guo’s col­lege class­mate.

Guo made his last satel­lite call at 3 pm on Oct 25 Bei­jing time, then dis­ap­peared. His boat, Qing­dao China, a 29.7-me­ter-long French-made tri­maran, was later found un­manned 900 nau­ti­cal miles off the west coast of Hawaii. Guo was at­tempt­ing to break a world record for a solo trans-Pa­cific voy­age.

What ex­actly hap­pened re­mains un­known. Some ex­perts spec­u­lated that Guo might have been thrown from the boat when he was deal­ing with a main­sail. The US dis­patched a plane and two Navy ships to search for him, but their ef­forts were un­suc­cess­ful.

“We were still talk­ing as usual the day be­fore he went miss­ing. He told me the sky was so blue and the wa­ter so beau­ti­ful. I could tell he was in a very good mood,” said Sun Ping, a cousin who has taken care of Guo since he en­tered col­lege.

Sun spent a day aboard the boat with Guo in San Fran­cisco on Oct 15, watch­ing him pre­pare for any cir­cum­stance, in­clud­ing un­ex­pected dan­ger, as she did ev­ery time Guo went out sail­ing.

“He seemed very well pre­pared and re­laxed. He showed me ev­ery move,” Sun re­called. “The news was like a thun­der­bolt to me.”

As the first Chi­nese to sail around the globe alone, Guo held two world records: the 40-foot solo non­stop cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion world record (138 days in 2013), and the Arc­tic Ocean North­east Pas­sage non­stop sail­ing world record (12 days 3 hours in 2015). Guo is mar­ried, with two sons. The youngest is 4 years old.

FLOYD HONDA / FOR CHINA DAILY

A res­cue team of seven mar­itime ex­perts led by a for­mer US Navy SEAL com­man­der de­parted from Hawaii’s main is­land of Oahu on Sun­day to search for Guo Chuan.

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