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Solo sailor overdue off East Cape

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 22/09/2016

Rescue officials are becoming increasingly concerned for an inexperienced solo sailor who is overdue and possibly sailing into heavy weather off the East Cape.

The 20-year-old was spotted aboard the 6.7-metre Luna at Anaura Bay on Monday, when the sailor waved to an aircraft sent to look for him .

The Rescue Co-ordination Centre says the man was sailing from Napier to Auckland and had promised to call a friend every day.

He made a call on Friday night but has not been heard from since.

Weather in the area is deteriorating, with 30-knot winds, rain and low cloud expected later on Thursday.

"Our concern is this appears to be an inexperienced sailor heading into weather dangerous for a small boat and no one has heard from him," said search and rescue mission co-ordinator Mike Roberts.

Vessels in the area are being asked to look for the yacht and a Defence Force helicopter from Ohakea has also joined the search.

It is believed the yacht had a VHF radio and the skipper had a cellphone but there was no record of a distress beacon on board.

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