UK's Mike Golding wants answers
Angry Mike Golding has called into question the seaworthiness of the Open 60 fleet. As one of 18 skippers forced to abandon the Vendee Globe, solo, non-stop, round-the-world race he is ‘furious’ that no-one is taking responsibility for boat failures.
Golding, whose boat Ecover 3 was dismasted in the Southern Ocean only hours after taking the lead in the 27,000-mile race, said: ‘Engineers have a lot of questions to answer, and the designers,’ according to the Sunday Times.
Just a few days before his race ended, Golding was concerned about the keelhead failure that had caused Swiss skipper Dominique Wavre to abandon.
Golding’s keel design was exactly the same and he had noticed cracking around the casing three weeks earlier. With the final ice gate approaching before the plunge deeper into the Southern Ocean, Golding tried to gain reassurance from the engineers.
‘Both Dominique and I had specified separately that we wanted a keel to get us round the Vendee Globe,’ Golding said.
‘We said, ‘Don’t risk anything, don’t minimise it, make it last’, but it failed and no one wants to be responsible. I was furious about Dominique’s keel failure.’
However past editions of the race have seen up to 50 per cent of the fleet not finishing which means it is a ‘race of elimination’, as one observer put it.
The International 60 feet Monohull Open Class Association (IMOCA) is not happy about the percentage of failures and will be assessing the future after the race finishes.
IMOCA has been working since the beginning of 2008 on an evolution of the rules alongside the majority of the skippers, with the aim of simplifying and limiting the power of the boats. The solutions are not obvious and the knowledge drawn from this edition of the Vendee Globe will contribute largely to any future decisions.
Before the race IMOCA stated: “We have to be careful: the temptation to change is great during a moment of euphoria, but we have to remember what helped the Class grow in the first place. The Vendee Globe dictates the rhythm of the IMOCA Championship, without doubt it creates great champions and great sailors, but with it, it teaches us so much, and we will learn from everything it teaches us; it’s the big sailing adventures that remain the real adjudicators.”
This year’s race has been packed with dramatic withdrawals, reports AFP, most notably by Vincent Riou, who won the last edition of the solo, non-stop, round-the-world yacht race in 2005.
The Frenchman was forced to pull out of this year’s event last week after losing his mast in the rescue of fellow Frenchman Le Cam a day earlier while rounding Cape Horn off the tip of South America.
The incident took place around 139km southeast of Puerto Williams, which is 3,500km south of Chilean capital Santiago.
The departure of Riou left just 12 boats out of the original flotilla of 30 which started the competition.
A day earlier, Le Cam had been in third place when his boat VM Materiaux dramatically overturned in high winds west of Cape Horn, before being rescued by Riou, who tried four times to get his fellow competitor off his stricken boat.
Michel Desjoyeaux currently leads the race, with fellow Frenchman Roland Jourdain around 300 nautical miles behind in second. There remain more than 5,200 nautical miles to sail to the finish in western France.