LEGENDARY sailor Sir Robin Knox- Johnston has defended the decision to halt the latest stage of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race last week as competitors today begin the restarted race.

The boats had been racing from Singapore to Southampton’s twin city in Qingdao when the Gosport-based organisers became worried about part of the rigging on the vessels – the forestay bottlescrews.

Because all the competing boats are identical it was decided to halt the race, with yachts using their motors to journey to Hong Kong for inspections or repairs.

All teams have since restarted Race 9 to Qingdao after crossing the restart gate.

The race will be decided upon elapsed times, organisers say.

Sir Robin, founder and chairman of the Clipper Race and the first man to sail solo and non-stop around the world, said there had been no alternative to halting the race temporarily.

He said: “It wasn’t just a question of possibly losing a mast, it was a question of safety, so we had to take action instantly.

“The bottlescrews are a pretty vital part of the rig.

“The crews were all prepared when they arrived into Hong Kong so we could get on with it very quickly.

“There are always adjustments needed with new boats and little things that need looking at. It’s not the end of the world because the skippers were onto it very quickly.”