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Safety fears bring Clipper world yacht race to a halt; Experts fly to Philippines to investigate loose bolts'.

Byline: BY KATE MANSEY Daily Post Staff

RACE directors for the Clipper round-the-world yacht race arrived in the Philippines this morning to oversee repair work on the fleet.

The world's longest yacht race ground to a halt on Saturday morning when seven out of the 10 yachts reported loose bolts.

An investigation has been launched to discover why the brand new purpose-built yachts have experienced problems.

The Liverpool 08 yacht, which had been in second position in the 35,000-mile race, is among the vessels hit with faults.

Its crew, under 27-year-old skipper Tim Magee, noticed problems with the boat after the Glasgow ship raised the alarm, telephoning race directors with safety worries.

A decision was made to divert the whole fleet 100 miles off track for an emergency stop in Subic Bay, Philippines.

Now the Glasgow boat has been taken out of the water and the race is on hold until all the boats have been declared safe.

Simon Rowell, assistant race director, will arrive today with race director Tim Hedges flying out with the yachts' designers and builders in two days' time.

Mr Hedges said: "We have moved all 10 boats safely into the marina at Subic Bay in the Philippines.

"Our immediate priority was getting the boats to safety.

"The next priority now is to fully investigate the causes of the problem.

"There certainly was a degree of risk to the crews which was why we made the decision to divert the entire fleet to the Philippines.

"The experienced skippers took all the right actions to minimise the risk to the crew members.

"We received a telephone call from the Glasgow crew but at no stage was there any emergency.

"When we got the report from the Glasgow boat we sent out an advisory message for the other crews to check their yachts.

"That's when we started getting other reports of similar but less extensive problems."

The Clipper yachts used in the 2005/2006 race were brand new.

International cities and countries have sponsored the 10 identical 68ft ocean-racing yachts which are all moored until further notice.

The fleet departed from Singapore on January 27 on its way to Qingdao, China.

Departing last September from Liverpool, the fleet was due to return to the city this July but now that looks uncertain.

Mr Hedges added: "It's too early to say really what will happen next until we have a clearer picture of the problem. At the moment, we don't really have a time scale but we hope to be able to minimise the disruption to the race as much as possible."

Many crew members are amateur sailors who have paid thousands of pounds to take part in the race.

For many this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

After news came of the delay, race organisers decided to abandon the sixth leg of the race.

kate.mansey@liverpool.com

There certainly was a degree of risk to crews

CAPTION(S):

Crew members, from left, Joe Caddick, Andy Perry and Dave Keen aboard the vessel in Singapore' right, Joe and Dave in the galley' Seven out of the 10-strong Clipper yacht fleet have reported problems with loose bolts
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 7, 2006
Words:528
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