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France Switzerland Yachting French Polynesia Sailing Missing

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French-Swiss yachtsman Bourgnon reported missing while diving in French Polynesia

Laurent Bourgnon in the harbour at Saint-Malo, France, prior to the start of the transatlantic solo race "Route du Rhum" , 6 November 1998. Reuters/Charles Platiau/Files

French-Swiss yachtsman Laurent Bourgnon was reported missing while diving in French Polynesia on Wednesday. Bourgnon, 49, was on a private diving trip on his yacht off the atoll of Toau, 375 km north-east of Tahiti.

Four tourists and three crew members were also on the yacht.

Bourgnon went diving on his own on Wednesday, police said, while the four holidaymakers and the instructor had gone together.

The group reported some difficulties in reaching the surface although the area is not particularly dangerous.

The crew members, a cook and a hostess, had difficulty raising the alarm as Bourgnon was the only one who knew to operate the communications system.

A rescue helicopter flew over the area late on Wednesday afternoon but saw no sign of Bourgnon.

The search was due to resume on Thursday.

Bourgnon won the prestigious Route du Rhum transatlantic sailing race in 1994 and 1998.