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LeBon & Arnold Clark Drum retire from Rolex Fastnet Race

by Margaret Murray 10 Aug 2005 19:24 BST

Simon LeBon and the crew of Arnold Clark Drum have today (10th August 2005) announced their official retirement from the Rolex Fastnet Race, where, because of light winds, their progress has been so slow that the Duran Duran lead singer would be unable to complete the race in time to fly to Japan, where the band are slated to play on Saturday night.

Their early retirement from the competition is a huge disappointment to LeBon who, along with twenty four other crew members, escaped death in the 1985 Fastnet Race, after Drum capsized in bad weather off the coast of Falmouth. This year the crew were reunited to mark the 20th anniversary of Drum's last attempt at the same race.

At 1630 hrs, yesterday (9th August 2005) Arnold Clark Drum was 25 miles from the Fastnet in flat calm conditions. At this point, the boat was travelling at only two knots, in very light winds. Calling home from a cell phone on board the racing yacht, Phil Wade, one of the senior crew members said; ; "We are enjoying the sun and the calm sea - in stark contrast to the raging gale we lived through 20 years ago, when Drum capsized, putting us all in considerable danger. The weather conditions surrounding the two races are like chalk and cheese. Today's a beautiful sunny day, twenty years ago it was driving rain with one mile visibility. And I have to say, we're very happy to be back here in different circumstances.''

Unfortunately, however, with conditions as calm as they've been, just hours after this call, the crew decided to pull out of the race, knowing that they would be unable to reach Plymouth in time for Simon LeBon to fly to Tokyo to join the other members of Duran Duran for the first of their series of shows. The crew were always working to a tight schedule to ensure that LeBon could honour his commitment to his Japanese fans, however, everyone involved in the project felt that they had more than a fighting chance of completing the race in the time allowed, had the weather conditions been in their favour.

This morning Phil Wade commented "After a very careful review of both the forecast for the next twenty four hours and our progress to date, we decided to retire from the race, motor 'round the Fastnet in daylight and then head back to Plymouth. We'll have completed the course at least. Obviously, we're disappointed not to finish the race, but we're all well and having a good time on board. The memories we have of this amazing second adventure together will be treasured by us all. We want to thank every-one for their support throughout this project - particularly those who've helped us to get it off the ground, who've sent messages wishing us luck, and who made donations to the RNLI. Please do continue to support this very worthy service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboats have saved over 136,600 lives."

A spokesperson for Simon LeBon added; "Although light weather conditions have thwarted Drum's attempt to complete the Rolex Fastnet Race, Simon and the crew remain in high spirits. They've really enjoyed the reunion and have succeeded in their mission to raise funds for the RNLI. Simon and the crew are now even more determined to compete and finish the Rolex Fastnet Race in the future."

Sir Arnold Clark, who kindly agreed to loan the yacht to Le Bon and his crew said "It was fantastic to see Arnold Clark Drum compete again in the Fastnet race with her original crew. It must have been a very nostalgic journey for them all. It is most unfortunate that she had to retire and we wish Simon and the crew a safe journey to Plymouth. Arnold Clark Automobiles Limited are delighted that Drum's participation in the race has heightened awareness of the RNLI and raised money for such a worthy cause."

Light conditions have not only hindered Drum's completion of the Fastnet Race. Many of the remaining yachts are also making their way slowly to the end and are not expected to arrive before Sunday. Drum is currently motoring home and is expected to arrive at Plymouth around midnight tonight.

Simon LeBon will fly to Tokyo tomorrow (Thursday), arriving on Friday afternoon to play the first of three concerts in Japan, in front of more than 60,000 fans.

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