Yacht fails to complete first unmanned Transat

A robotic yacht, which was aiming to be the first unmanned yacht to cross the Atlantic, has disappeared mid-ocean.

3m-long Pinta set off from Ireland on September 14, but the team behind the crossing from Aberystwyth University said that she has been missing for the last two weeks.

Dr Mark Neal, one of the challenge’s founders, said: ‘The boat has disappeared without trace. We tracked it up until two weeks ago, but then it suddenly disappeared.’

Dr Neal confessed before the voyage that he did not expect the yacht to complete the crossing.

Prophetically he said: ‘At this point it could well turn out to be the world’s first robotic sailing boat shipwreck.

‘I don’t think Pinta will succeed because there are some horrible weather conditions out there.

‘There are 35 to 40 knot winds and the remnants of a hurricane.

‘Pinta will probably capsize. It is waterproof, but it won’t survive the continual flipping over.’

Powered by small solar panels, the boat was programmed to sail the race course, but was propelled by just the wind.

The aim of the voyage was to build a robot that can survive for a long time in hostile environments.

Subscribe to Yachting Monthly magazine for all the latest sailing news and reviews