Jonny is gutted while Brian's enjoying a slalom race

Voices at sea

Isle of Wight sailor Jonny Malbon has abandoned his bid to sail solo in the Vendee Globe round-the-world yacht race following a tear in his mainsail.

Some 300 miles south of New Zealand’s South Island in his yacht Artemis, it’s believed the sail would eventually “disintegrate”.

Dorset’s Steve White, Hampshire’s Dee Caffari and Samantha Davies are three of the UK sailors still in the race. Malbon, 34, from Cowes, said: “I am absolutely devastated.” Tthe son of Guernsey’s lieutenant governor, added: “We have been through so much since the start and survived it all. Words cannot describe my disappointment that this has come to an end

“I think I always imagined that if I went out of this race it would not be something I would have to weigh up and decide, it would just be something that happened and be beyond my control.

“It is no longer if but when the mainsail will just disintegrate completely, so heading out past New Zealand back into the Southern Ocean is just not feasible.

“My heart is telling me to go on but my head is telling me I have to stop and in the end it is true – I have no choice.

Gutted is probably the correct word, absolutely gutted. I can’t really say much more than that. It’s such a terrible feeling having come so far and having to pull out now but I know it’s the grown-up decision.

I could have continued to the point when the mainsail becomes completely unusable, the only definite is that will happen, but we don’t know when. So there comes a point when you have to look at the rest of the year and try and focus on that. I’m headed north up to Auckland, where we’ll hopefully get onto a big container ship and shipped back to Europe.

It’s been a huge experience on many, many levels and I’ve really enjoyed it. That’s the gutting thing: the hard miles in my mind are behind me and the boat’s relatively unscathed apart from an issue we can’t control. I’ve learnt a lot from this race. But it’s also left me really hungry and already I see this as unfinished business.

8th – Brian Thompson, Bahrain Team Pindar (GBR):
We’re past the penultimate ice gate and aiming for the final ice at 110 West, which will be great. Then it’s a big right-hand turn to get down to the Horn. It really has turned into a slalom race between all these gates, but I’m certainly very happy to have them. Even though it’s added 1,500 miles to the voyage it’s made it a lot safer for the whole fleet not to be encountering ice the whole time, just a little bit in the Indian Ocean – the Pacific where most of the ice was we’ve been routed around.
In a 60ft monohull instead of a 110 cat you tend to see more weather systems because you’re going slower. Although I’ve only seen the sun for about 5 minutes since New Zealand, just a little glimpse of it yesterday!