Friday December 19th, 2008

In a dramatic turn of events Vendée Globe leader, Mike Golding has been forced to abandon the race. His yacht, Ecover 3, was dismasted in the Indian Ocean on Tuesday morning when winds reached speeds of over 55knots. Golding had only recently taken the lead from French skipper Jean-Pierre Dick and was 30 miles in front of second place, Paprec Virbac, when disaster struck about 940miles south of Perth. The Ecover 3 was hit by a sudden gust and turned onto her side causing the rig to collapse.

'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,'
Said Golding of the tragic events. 'It basically went from being a near gale to a hurricane, and the mast didn't like it…. 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.'

After 36 days at sea the Brit Skipper now has the daunting and distinctly unwelcome task ahead of how best to get ashore, which is proving a difficult proposition indeed.

'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 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.'
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