Big winds have forced Hannah White, the 20-year-old sailor from Lymington, to retire from her record attempt

Hannah White, the 20-year-old sailor from Lymington, who set off from Southampton yesterday in her attempt to become the youngest person to sail non-stop, singlehanded round Britain and Ireland, has been forced to retire with gear failure less than 24 hours in to her challenge.

Shortly after setting off in building south-easterly winds with two reef in the main on a broad reach in her 21ft Mini Transat yacht, White began to encounter problems with her autopilot and, while trying to fix the problem, the boat chinese-gybed and capsized throwing her over the side. Fortunately, she was clipped on in her harness and was able to scramble back onboard safely as the boat righted itself.

In the continuing building winds off Portland Bill, which White says reached Force 8-9, and with a failed autopilot and a torn mainsail she wisely made contact with the coastguards and was accompanied by lifeboat in to Weymouth early this morning.

According to Simon Coward, the shore manager, White is still smiling after her epic night on the ocean waves and has every intention of continuing her voyage. Obviously she won’t be able to set any non-stop records but is fighting fit and looking forward to setting sail again once a favourable weather window appears.