Air search to continue for missing yachties
By Rosaleen MacBrayne
An Air Force Orion will this morning resume the search for a couple overdue on a yachting trip to Rarotonga.

It is five weeks since Australian skipper Gary Cull and his partner, Verona Hunt, left Nelson on board the 12.5m trimaran Manoah.

Members of Ms Hunt's family visited the Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Wellington after the air search began yesterday for an update but did not want to comment.

However, the rescue mission co-ordinator Keith Allen said: "Everybody remains hopeful."

The Orion would not continue today if there was no chance of finding something, he said.

It would fly further east after covering an area of more than 40,000 sq miles southeast of Raoul Island yesterday.

Mr Allen said on Thursday that concerns for the couple were mounting after so long without contact. No one knew what route they had taken or what their plans were on the way.

Having failed to arrive in Rarotonga by now, the Manoah was probably damaged in storms six or seven days after leaving New Zealand, said Mr Allen.

Mr Cull, an experienced yachtsman, built the Manoah and sailed it single-handed to NZ from Sydney. They had seven weeks of food on board.