Does anyone know the brand and model of the autopilots he is using?
Agreed. There is a good reason that 90%+ of the Vendee Globe folks use NKE autopilots. And while they certainly carry spars just in case (think singlehanding in the Southern Ocean in a blow in an open ocean 60), they generally don't have to use them. And they have enough confidence in the NKE units that they will set them on the "course to wind" setting with the shoot up and go below and sleep for 4 hours. You really have to have faith in your autopilot to do that.A problem with the installation sounds more likely, to me... After all, an AP wired correctly should shut down when the breaker is tripped at the main panel, no?