AN ADVENTUROUS sailor has turned back from a race across the Atlantic Ocean after a gale damaged his boat.

John Margarson, originally from Queensferry, was leading the world-famous Jester Challenge boat race in his craft Fluffy when gale-force winds destroyed his main sail, chafed his lines and caused electrical problems.

The 60-year old accountant who now lives in Thorpe Bay, Southend-on-Sea, had already been under pressure after his electric steer broke only 30 hours into the race, which started from Plymouth on May 25.

His wife Isabel said: “John was doing extremely well until he encountered the gale.

He had sailed over 940 miles in seven days. He could not have carried on for another 2,000 miles with the boat as it is.

“Although he is disappointed he is happy with the decision he made to turn back. It would have been impossible for him to keep going.

“It all started very well. John was the first to cross the starting line and as far as we know he was well ahead of the other competitors until he decided to turn back."

In 1980 John set off around the world from Connah’s Quay in a self-built boat and was welcomed back seven years later by a huge crowd. It was on the solo trip he met Isabel, originally from Brazil.

Isabel said: “I rang him on Sunday. He was very tired but  satisfied he had made the responsible decision to head back.

“I am looking forward to having him home, but I know it will take a lot more than seven days for him to get back to England as without the head sail the boat will be much slower.”

Competitors are expected at the race’s finish at Rhode Island near New York at the end of June.