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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 August 2006, 18:37 GMT 19:37 UK
Missing yacht dead men identified
Left to right:  Jason Downer, Jamie Saunders (who was not on board), Rupert Saunders and James Meaby (courtesy of the Saunders family)
From left, Jason Downer, Jamie and Rupert Saunders and James Meaby
Police investigating the disappearance of a yacht in the English Channel have identified two bodies recovered in the search for its three-man crew.

The bodies of Rupert Saunders, 36, of Tooting in south London, and Jason Downer, 35, of Broadstairs, Kent, were found in the sea on Wednesday evening.

On Tuesday the body of James Meaby, 36, also from Tooting, was found 10 miles off Nab Tower, near the Isle of Wight.

The families of three men have paid tribute to "loving family members".

Mystery surrounds why the yacht and its crew foundered at sea.

All three had a zest for life, following testing professional careers, along with a love for sports, including sailing
Joint family statement

Mark Roadaway, of the Solent Coastguard, said: "There are a number of potential scenarios that could have caused this incident.

"Whatever it was it was fairly sudden and very traumatic."

A massive sea search of the area has failed to find the 27ft (8.2m) boat.

The bodies of Mr Saunders and Mr Downer were located five miles south of St Catherine's Point on the Isle of Wight, and 10 miles west of where Mr Meaby's body was recovered.

A Sailfish 25 / Patrick Woodward
The missing yacht 'Ouzo' was a Sailfish 25 similar to this one

In a joint statement the families of the three men said the trio had been friends for many years, going back to school and university days.

"All three had a zest for life, following testing professional careers, along with a love for sports, including sailing," it read.

"They were all competent, qualified sailors and were on board Rupert's 26-foot yacht Ouzo, which he shared with his brother Jamie.

"On Sunday, 20 August, they set out to sail from Bembridge on the Isle of Wight to Dartmouth, Devon, a voyage with which they were familiar, having done the same trip before.

"The yacht Ouzo is a well-equipped vessel, based at Bembridge, where Rupert's family have a home. As well as sailing, the lads also keenly enjoyed rugby and skiing, being keen supporters of Quinn's rugby team.

"They all were loving family members who will be dearly missed."

Hampshire Police have launched an inquiry because no Mayday signal was heard.




SEE ALSO
Three bodies recovered from sea
23 Aug 06 |  Hampshire
Sailor's body found by fishermen
22 Aug 06 |  Hampshire

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