LATEST: DURAN DURAN singer Simon Le Bon pulled out of the sailing race which almost claimed his life 20 years ago - but insists strong winds forced him to quit rather than fear.

The GIRLS ON FILM star sold his old yacht, Drum, in 1985 after it capsized off the coast of Cornwall, leaving Le Bon and his crew trapped for 40 minutes in the upturned boat, which flooded with water and poisonous battery acid.

But he borrowed the same $13 million (GBP7 million) boat and began the 978 kilometre (608 mile) Rolex Fastnet Race from Britain's Isle of Wight to Plymouth, England on Sunday (07AUG05), to raise money for nautical charity Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI).

However, he officially pulled out because the stormy weather would have jeopardized his chances of flying to Tokyo, Japan in time for a concert.

His spokesman says, "Even though they've had to pull out, Simon and his crew are in high spirits.

"They've really enjoyed the reunion and have succeeded in their mission to raise funds for the RNLI.

"They are now more determined to compete and finish in the future."