Gearbox failure forces return to Midway, one of the ten internationally-backed yachts competing in the Clipper 07-08 Round the World Yacht Race, is heading back to Midway Island in the Pacific Ocean due to gearbox failure on Tuesday. The team representing Western Australia reported to the Race Office that at approximately 2300 GMT on Tuesday the gearbox on the 68-foot yacht had sheared after one of their lines became caught around the propeller.

The team are now heading back to the remote Pacific island of Midway where they spent 30 hours last weekend stocking up on fuel and fresh food following their dismasting on Wednesday 5 March during the leg from Qingdao in China to Hawaii.

The crew of twelve, including professional skipper Martin Silk, constructed a jury rig after losing half of their 81-foot mast two weeks ago. The team has made good progress towards Hawaii approximately 970 miles to the east of their position at 0600 GMT on Wednesday but will now turn back towards Midway.

“A line around the propeller today whilst re-engaging the drive has turned our race around once again. The line marking 1,000 miles to Hawaii will now need to be crossed two more times as we return to Midway refuge,” Martin Silk said following the gearbox failure.

Due to the strong headwinds they would face if they proceeded towards Hawaii, the Race Office instructed Martin and his team to head back to Midway, approximately 170 miles to the west.

“Everyone is safe and well onboard. We’ve had a busy afternoon removing the gearbox and we’ve been logging the best speeds in two days as the head winds now become our friends,” Martin added.

The Race Team is currently assessing the options for getting a replacement gearbox to Midway so that the Western Australian team can proceed to Hawaii as soon as possible., the winning boat in Clipper 05-06, is expected to arrive in Midway on Thursday.

Joff Bailey continues: “The repair is simple, once they get the parts, and they should be underway again soon after receiving them.”