Vendee – Golding's catastrophe

Last night we confidently predicted that Mike Golding in Ecover 3 would over haul Jean-Pierre Dick in Paprec-Virbrac whose rudder had been badly damaged when he had hit some unseen object. Golding was making great headway and did indeed take the lead and establish headway of some 30 nautical miles.

Bang – if the mother of a squall, Golding says was 55 knots, suddenly blasted his boat and blew his mast clean off – shattered at the stump. Golding is about 1000 miles south west of Perth and 1500 miles from Adelaide and would therefore appear to be in a spot of bother.

He takes up the story: ‘I was just out on deck when a squall came through with winds of 55knots. I had the main with two reefs and a reacher and had been like that for two hours. Overnight we had winds of up to 45k so I had two reefs and a staysail and then changed to the new configuration in the early morning,I was just getting into my jacket when the boat rounded up and then heeled right over. I heard a bang and immediately went back below deck and waited until the noise had stopped.”

‘The whole rig is down, there is not even a stump left. Once everything had settled down a bit I went back out and the mast was lying across the deck and was acting as an anchor. When things stopped moving about dramatically I set about cutting off the rig. There is some superficial damage to the boat, but nothing major.’

My options now are controlled by what I can set up as a jury and unfortunately I don’t have much left. I am about 1500nm south of Perth and Adelaide, so whatever the deal will be to try and cover 1500 miles somehow. I managed to save the boom but have lost all my sails, other than storm staysail but this will probably fit and then I will work out how to fly something off the back of that.”

But whatever I do, I will only be able to reach and will not be able to go up or downwind. I am gutted. But there is not much I can do about it.’

One tough race, one extreme sport and the funny things is we can’t find any relevant video action – strange how noone is floating around in the southern oceans, 1000 miles from anywhere, with their camcorder at the ready! Anyway we put out this one from chriscool8 – a teaser for the Vendee Globe 2008 – and it gives you a taste of the action, presentation of the skippers and the conditions and challenge they face – AWESOME.

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