Winds desert crew within 200 miles of the finish and they are heading instead for Antigua

After the best part of three days neck and neck with Club Med’s transatlantic record from Cadiz to San Salvador, the crew of Maiden II abandoned their attempt to beat it yesterday. They had been pushing to keep level and knew they would need a strong finish, but the winds simply wouldn’t oblige. With only 200 miles of the 3,884-mile Atlantic crossing left, the wind died and came ahead, and it was decided to call it off.

Back in the UK, sailing director Tracy Edwards said: “We decided to abandon the attempt when we knew that the wind was not going to let us finish in time. There is no prize for 2nd place when you are breaking records! “

Instead, Maiden II has altered course for Antigua, where Edwards plans to rejoin the boat and do some flag-waving at Antigua Sailing Week. She added that she was happy the boat and crew were on the pace: “With only four days training to get used to the boat and get her up to speed, to come so close is an achievement in itself. Grant Dalton had been training for months before they tried the record and they also broke the 24-hour record. It’s amazing to think that Maiden II only went back in the water 26 days ago.”

On board, crewman Paul Larsen yesterday reported a similar feeling among the crew: disappointed but pleased at progress so far: “Pretty good considering that when I joined the project 25 days ago the boat was sitting on cradles in the La Ciotat boatyard in the south of France with the mast laying alongside! The record [will have been] decided not by skill or lack of preparation but by the fickle nature of the weather.

“We’ve given it our best shot, worked together extremely well and gained invaluable experience sailing this wonderful boat.”