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3 February 2005, 06:53 pm
Golding Loses Keel - Determined to Finish
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Vendée Globe

This afternoon at 1400hrs GMT British skipper Mike GOLDING reported from on board his Open 60 Ecover that he was having problems with his keel. There is no immediate danger and the skipper is still racing, lying in third place in the 2004-2005 Vendee Globe solo round the world race
At 1500hrs Ecover had 52.4 miles to the finish line. It is understood that he has lowered his sails other than for a small trinquette headsail, and had filled his ballast tanks to try to maintain some stability in the boat, and had been making about 2.1 knots upwind. Golding made the call to his shore-crew who were awaiting his finish this evening and, leaving at approximately 1700hrs, they have taken their 67 foot steel Challenge class yacht Ecover 67 out to Golding's location to stand by. They are expected to meet up with the skipper and his boat at between 2200hrs GMT tonight and 0100hrs early tomorrow morning. The French Gendarmerie Nationale's 40-metre patrol boat "L'Epée" is also heading to the area to stand by.

Golding is determined to finish the race un-assisted. At 15h00 GMT, the fourth placed boat, Temenos, was over 900 miles from the finish. 'We are interested only in securing the situation, standing by and only watching to ensure that Mike is safe.' commented Vendee Globe race director Denis HOREAU.

Official details just released by Mike Golding Yacht Racing state: "It has been confirmed that Ecover has lost her keel and is sailing with full ballast and Golding remains determined to finish the race. Golding is currently heading north at a boat speed of 5 knots. The weather forecast will remain North Easterly until Saturday when it will shift to a South Westerly direction. The conditions, 20 to 22 knots with a slight chop that is not hampering the boat's progress. Golding's priorities are as follows:

  • His personal safety
  • The boat's safety
  • To complete the race.

Golding has confirmed that the keel has broken below the bearings. The head of the keel is still attached to the boat. The ballast tanks are full with approximately 3.5 tonnes of water. His sail plan consists of a staysail and "mini" reef (a heavily reefed mainsail which serves to balance the boat so that Ecover can sail to windward).

Currently Golding is unable to tack the boat (to turn the bow through the wind to change direction) but can gybe (turning the boat away from the wind where its stern passes through the wind) Golding is feeling very strong and mentally solid. He is focusing his efforts on the three main priorities noted above."

Event Media/MGYR, Image: Image: © Benoît Stichelbaut / DPPI / Vendée Globe
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