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Searches for missing yachtsman called off

January 22, 1997

PARIS (AP) _ Searches for a Canadian sailor participating in an around-the-world yacht race have been called off, but organizers said today they hope he is still on course.

Argentine and Chilean navy planes had been searching the seas west of Cape Horn for Gerry Roufs, 43, who last made contact with race organizers on Jan. 7.

Searchers were encouraged after making brief radio contact with Roufs last Thursday, but they have been unable to establish visual contact with him due to bad weather.

French organizers of the Vendee Globe solo yacht race said the last aerial searches were Monday, and an Argentine navy ship was to leave the area today.

``We are hoping he is still on course, but we can’t be sure of anything,″ said Astrid Renard, a spokeswoman for the organizers.

Organizers said Tuesday night that air searches for Roufs had become ``useless.″

The Vendee Globe race, which began in France in November, takes the solo adventurers around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, Cape Leeuwin in western Australia and South America’s Cape Horn.

Three yachtsmen have been rescued so far during the race, which has crossed through rough seas.

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