Sailor ‘gutted’ at having to retire from race

Concise in bad weather conditions

Concise in bad weather conditions

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A PULBOROUGH skipper is ‘gutted’ at having to pull out of a gruelling transatlantic race.

Ned Collier Wakefield, 23 and his team mate Sam Goodchild, 21, were the youngest team to compete in the 2011 Transat Jacques Vaabre (TJV) Le Harve to Costa Rica challenge, but had to retire from the race when the hull of the boat became damaged.

Ned on the boat

Ned on the boat

Talking to the County Times Ned said he was ‘gutted’ as up until that point the race was ‘going really well’.

He said: “Before then the boat was sailing brilliantly, we were both fully into the swing of things, pushing hard, whilst still looking after the boat.”

He added that they had managed to pull out a 30 mile lead getting into first place, which made retiring all the more difficult.

The initial plan was for the two man team to complete the 4,500 miles across the Atlantic in under 25 days.

Ned said they had been on target to do it in 22.

Things did not get off to a great start, however, with the root of a lot of the problems being the weather.

Deteriorating weather conditions meant instead of setting off on Sunday October 30 they had to wait until Wednesday November 2.

Whilst on the open sea Ned said he experienced ‘the worst’ conditions ever.

He said: “We had to go through three low pressure systems. With each exceeding 65 knots of wind and seven metre high seas.”

Over the course of the race eight other boats had to retire, however, luckily none of these were in front of Ned and Sam so the positions they gained was through their own hard work.

Recounting when the incident happened he said: “We dropped all the sails, had the air sea rescue on standby and a nerve wrenching 26 hour sail, trying to nurse the boat to the closest island.

“There was a strong possibility of the hull damage worsening and losing the boat. So it was such a relief to reach land.”

He added that there was no possibility of carrying on and they were ‘lucky’ to get where they did.

However, he said: “It has given us some real confidence and leaves us with some unfinished business to return to next time.

“The race really helped to raise our profile, so now we just have to move on and concentrate on the next race.”