Polish Skipper Sixth to Withdraw from 2012 Vendée Globe Race

Press Release
Thursday, November 22, 2012

Zbigniew 'Gutek' Gutkowski (ENERGA) retired from the single-handed race after days trying to find a fix for his autopilots.

Gutek, almost 2,000 miles behind the leader, Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) had been sailing east, running tests on his two autopilots after his wipe out on Saturday . He said that electronic issues and the autopilots have been the problem from the start.

“Today I need to officially announce what I’ve been thinking about for days,” Gutek said. “Being brave is not only about fighting, it is also about knowing where to stop.
I know I did everything I could, working on my electronics issues for many days.
I know my team and friends did their best as well. And I am extremely grateful for the huge support I got .
But I can’t carry on like that. When there is big wind and when the boat is going over 15 knots the autopilot starts to live a second life, doing whatever it wants."

“Having no autopilot means I can’t race, and if I can’t race, I have to retire.
When I joined the Vendée Globe I was not interested in being the 15thth skipper to finish. That’s a tough decision, one of toughest in my life. But that’s Vendee Globe, that’s the power of the ocean and you can’t fight it.
“I cannot go without an autopilot in the Southern Ocean, that is impossible. I need to keep the boat in one piece I don’t want to lose it and maybe my life in the Southern Ocean.”


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