British accessible tall ship, Lord Nelson, which is owned and operated by UK charity, the Jubilee Sailing Trust, has retired from the International Tall Ships Race in the Sydney to Auckland Tall Ships Regatta following a breakage in part of the 55-metre ship’s upper rigging.

All of the ship’s crew are safe and well and there is no immediate danger to the ship or those on board. There are 46 people aboard Lord Nelson for the voyage from Sydney, Australia, to Auckland, New Zealand: nine professional crew and 37 paying voyage crew.

The damage is not expected to delay the ship’s arrival in Auckland. Lord Nelson is due to arrive in the City of Sails to take part in Auckland Tall Ships Festival on 25 October, where she will be open to the public during the weekend of 26 and 27 October while she is berthed with the rest of the international tall ships fleet at Queens and Princes Wharves.

Captain of the square rigger, Chris Phillips, reported to JST headquarters in the UK that one of the stainless fittings, which joins the two main royal backstays (that support the top-most part of the main mast) together and thence to the masthead fitting, had failed.

Emailing the shore-based operations team Captain Phillips said, “This leaves us without adequate support to the mainmast head, and worst case, at risk of dismasting.”

Shortly afterwards, Captain Phillips reported that in order to limit the risk of further damage and to maintain a steady speed towards port, he had taken the decision to retire from the race and switch on Lord Nelson’s engines at 2236 GMT on 15 October (1036 local time on 16 October).

Lord Nelson is due to arrive at New Zealand’s main entry port, Opua, in the Bay of Islands, on Friday morning, 18 October, where they will remove the damaged part and engage a ship yard in Whangarei, on New Zealand’s North Island, to manufacture a new one.

Lord Nelson is taking part in the Tall Ships Race from Australia to New Zealand as part of her first ever global circumnavigation, the Norton Rose Fulbright Sail the World Challenge, a 50,000-mile, two-year voyage promoting the messages of inclusion and equality in more than 30 ports of call.

The ship is one of only two fully accessible tall ships in the world and is sailed by disabled and able-bodied crew. Features such as braille signage, wheelchair lifts between decks and hearing loops, hand rails and a bowsprit wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair mean a large variety of physical disabilities can be accommodated on board.

So far more than 500 people from almost 30 nationalities have taken part in the voyage and Lord Nelson will make her debut visit to the New Zealand this month.

Kiwis have a unique opportunity to sail on board Lord Nelson as she undertakes voyages from Auckland to Wellington, via the stunning Coromandel Peninsula and Cook Strait; from the nation’s capital to the South Island and the picturesque port of Nelson; and from there back to Auckland via the Marlborough Sounds. Berths are still available for these three voyages but have sold out for the final voyage around the North Island before Lord Nelson sets sail on 15 December bound for South America.

No sailing experience is necessary as the permanent crew will give all the training and guidance needed to get the most out of the voyage, whether that is showing a crew member how to climb the rigging, steer the ship or haul on a rope to help set the sails.