'I'm gutted', says Brit sailor

Having only just taken the overall lead in the Vendée Globe, British solo
skipper Mike Golding was cruelly dismasted in the Indian Ocean this morning
at 0647 hrs GMT reporting to Race HQ shortly afterwards that the rig of
Ecover 3 had collapsed when he was caught in winds of over 55 knots.
Golding is about 940 miles SW of Perth, Australia.

The British skipper had gained a lead of 30 miles over Jean-Pierre Dick,
who himself had suffered rudder damage yesterday. Golding and had been
sailing under a changed sail configuration when the sudden rise in wind
speed forced Ecover 3 over on her side.

“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,”
commented a very calm Golding this morning.

“It basically went from being a near gale to a hurricane, and the mast
didn’t like it.”

Golding had managed to secure a 30 mile lead over second-places Paprec
Virbac after 36 days of racing.

“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

“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 how to 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.”

Vendee Globe 

Image: OnEdition