Solo British yachtsman Mike Golding has been forced to retire from the Transat Ecover B to B race from Bahia, Brazil to Port La Foret, Brittany.
It is not a decision that he has taken lightly but a number of ongoing technical issues have pressed Golding to put his and the new boat's safety first, particularly having now completed the required 2,500 mile solo passage with the boat that will qualify him for next year's Vendee Globe.
Ecover is about 560 miles south west of the Canary Islands.
Overnight the boat developed further serious engine problems, which left Golding concerned that he would not be able to use the engine for the remaining duration of the race to charge essential batteries. Towards the end of the afternoon, the instrument and/pilot system completely failed leaving him without the automatic pilot.
This together with a number of issues have compounded Ecover's troubles, leaving Golding feeling that he was no longer competing at anything close to 100%.
Last night the struggling engine blew an oil seal spraying the entire cabin, damaging equipment and making the whole area very unsafe. Mike spent much of the day cleaning it down, while also continuing to wrestle and repair the engine
He has decided that the pragmatic course is to reduce sail and head to port. Time saved at this stage of boat development is vital. Battling on to the finish of this race could jeopardise the boat and could be unsafe.
'This is not a decision I take easily. I am not given to giving up in the face of adversity but this is about what I consider good seamanship. There is too much at stake to put the boat through unnecessary miles in this condition. The primary goal of doing this race was to qualify for the Vendee Globe, and to get racing miles under our keel in a competitive mode.' Golding explained.
'As soon as we finished the Transat Jacques Vabre we had a discussion with the Ecover technical team and we decided I would do it only if the boat was in competitive shape, which it definitely was at the start. Due to these problems we are no longer competitive. Minor issues can become much bigger problems on the Bay of Biscay in December. From here on it would only be a trial of my ability to keep the boat together, in no way learning more about the things we need to do for the future.'
'The forthcoming 600-odd miles will be a challenge in their own right and it is not going be an easy five days in this kind of mode.'
'The boat had never seriously gone upwind until this race.' Comments Matt Cowpe. Ecover's Project Manager, 'And so we have learned from that. We have learned a lot about the systems and the failings and what we need to improve. Time is of the essence and to risk anymore for no further learning is just not worth it.'