The legacy of the Velux 5 Oceans

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston ponders the defects of masts and keels as he ploughs on in the Velux 5 Oceans.

The loss of Hugo Boss was bad enough but to learn that Mike Golding was missing half his mast 6 hours after collecting Alex is a very bitter blow. After the excitement of picking up Alex, Mike must be absolutely distraught at breaking his mast. He was well placed, and bearing in mind he had lost two days as a result of storm damage right at the beginning, I think we were all looking forward to a really tough and pretty even competition between Mike and Bernard Stamm on the next leg.

I know Mike will not want to pull out of the Velux 5 Oceans unless he has to so we await a decision from him and his team as to whether they can repair the mast or find a new one so he can continue. That was a well-tried mast, so what caused it to break? What caused Alex’s keel to break? Is there something poised to break on this boat I am unaware of? These are questions we are all going to need to find answers to.

No one outside the race has been inconvenienced by either of these two mishaps, the sailors have looked after themselves, but we are all too aware of earlier incidents where people did have to come out and perform rescues and we don’t want to go back to those bad old days. This race is living up to its reputation as the ultimate solo challenge but I am personally very sad to see my two fellow compatriots potentially removed from the event so early, but relieved that both are safe and can live to race another day.