Carrera in the Grand Prix class has retired due to a damaged mainsail, but Maximus and Mari-Cha IV are still fighting it out for pole position

While the pace has slowed for the two leaders of the Rolex Transatlantic Race, Mari-Cha IV and Maximus, as they negotiate a warm front – Carrera, who was chasing them in third place in the Grand Prix class, has retired.

Carrera, owned by Stamford, Connecticut’s Joe Dockery, has retired from the race due to: “catastrophic mainsail failure while beating upwind in 40 knots of wind and very large seas in the Gulf Stream,” as the Captain Simon Davidson reported.

The yacht is heading back to Newport, R.I., and does “not require outside assistance.” Captain Davidson wrote in an email: “Carrera’s crew has made the decision that it would not be prudent to head farther into the North Atlantic with a mainsail that was so badly damaged in the first storm.”

The race is also over for the biggest boat in the fleet, the Storm Trysail Club-chartered 250ft (76m) clipper ship Stad Amsterdam. A delayed start and a prolonged period without wind forced the captain to turn on the engine.

“We have made the decision to retire because we came into an area without much wind and our charter will end on 8 June in Cowes,” explained Captain Pieter Brantjes. “To be there in time, we have to use the engine. At 0130 GMT we started the engine, and we are under power heading towards Cowes. It is a bitter disappointment as you would imagine, but we have no choice. There have been too many lulls and not enough wind for the vessel. This vessel needs wind and if we have no wind or headwinds, it is difficult for us.”

In the meantime, Mari-Cha IV and Maximus are now neck and neck after Maximus made up the miles yesterday. At present, Charles Brown and Bill Buckley’s 100-foot sloop is just under seven miles ahead of Mari-Cha IV.

Both boats are heading just south of east and making a more modest 10 knots compared to the high 20s they were seeing on Tuesday.

“Picking our way through some pretty rotten weather out here,” commented Mike Sanderson from on board Robert Miller’s 140-foot schooner. “We’ve got some really light airs this morning, and so lost a bunch to Maximus?. We’ll have to fight to get those precious miles back.”

Yesterday Maximus’ veteran navigator Mike Quilter reported in a jovial mood. “We are pootling along, no problems. We are leaving the low pressure, which we’ve been having a lot of fun with, and we are heading off across the squeeze between the high off of Newfoundland and the low pressure over by America. Expecting a reasonable amount of wind tonight, nearly upwind, 25-30 knots for 12 hours or so, and then we get over into the high pressure by Newfoundland, and it will be holiday time!”

This is the first major test of the New Zealand maxi, which has a state-of-the-art rotating wing mast and a retractable canting keel. “It is a brand new boat, and there have been an endless number of small issues on board, but we have overcome them all,” said Quilter. “We have a good ‘Mr. Fix-it’ on board in Jeff Scott, so we are in reasonable shape.”