18 Jun 2012

High seas again affect yacht search

10:27 pm on 18 June 2012

Rescue authorities are hoping to resume a search tomorrow for two missing yachtsmen from Australia, including Adelaide marine pilot Ian Thompson.

He was sailing with another man when their yacht ran aground at Late island, west of Vava'u in Tonga, last Thursday.

An RNZAF Orion discovered the boat's wreckage, but New Zealand's Rescue Coordination Centre called off a search for the two men - both aged in their sixties - because of high seas.

Captain Thompson is a marine pilot with the South Australian port authority, Flinders Ports, the ABC reports.

Flinders Ports operations manager Carl Kavina says rescuers are hoping to get divers to the scene.

"They have found wreckage of the boat, I believe they're going to have some divers go down there tomorrow and if the weather is good then they'll also make landfall with some boats and a search party will go and look for them on the island," Mr Kavina says.

Searchers had planned to land on the uninhabited island after an initial two days of extensive sea and aerial searches on Friday and Saturday failed to locate the men, who had phoned a relative in Australia on 14 June to say they had run aground and their yacht was breaking up.

On Sunday, rough seas thwarted attempts to land search parties to look for them, and there were similar problems on Monday.

The Rescue Co-ordination Centre says it will review conditions on Tuesday.