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Archive for Saturday, October 25, 2008

Branson abandons sailing record attempt

October 25, 2008

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— Two days after setting sail from New York City, British billionaire Sir Richard Branson abandoned his bid to break the trans-Atlantic speed record Friday after a 40-foot "monster" wave ripped the main sail of his single-hulled racing yacht.

Branson and his crew made the decision around 6:15 a.m. CDT Friday when the 99-foot Virgin Money was about 600 miles out in the Atlantic. No one was injured in the storm, and the sailors hoped to reach St. George, Bermuda - the nearest point of land - later Friday.

In a conference call from the vessel, Branson said, "We got taken by one massive, monster wave, which approached us from behind and took one of our life rafts. ... All the crew was harnessed in, so everyone was safe."

The 58-year-old Virgin Group chairman said the crew made an attempt to mend the sail but it was too badly ripped. "We live to fight another day," he said.

Branson had hoped to break the record for a trans-Atlantic crossing by reaching Lizard Point off the coast of England in less than six days, 17 hours, 52 minutes and 39 seconds - the current record.

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