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16 December 2008, 11:10 am
Trouble For Vendée Leaders As GOLDING Dismasts And DICK Damages Rudder
Mike GOLDING onboard Ecover
Mike GOLDING briefly held the race lead before Ecover dismasted in the early hours of this morning

Vendée Globe 2008-09
Les Sables d'Olonne, France

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 06:47 UTC reporting to Race HQ shortly afterwards that the rig of Ecover 3 had collapsed when he was caught in winds of over 55 knots.
Mike GOLDING is about 940 miles SW of Perth, Australia.

The British skipper had gained a lead of 30 miles over Jean-Pierre DICK (FRA), 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.

Following the problems of GOLDING and DICK, Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA) on Foncia has taken the race lead, completing a remarkable comeback after he was forced to return to port shortly after the start of the race, immediately conceding 360 miles to the leaders. DESJOYEAUX, winner of the fourth edition of Vendée Globe in 2000, was 5nm ahead of Roland JOURDAIN (FRA) on Veolia Environnement at the 10:00 UTC polling.

A very calm GOLDING reflecting on the events of the past 24 hours this morning, "I was just out on deck when a squall came through with winds of 55 knots. 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," he said.

"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 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."

Rudder Damage For DICK

GOLDING's dismasting follows a week where the British skipper had made phenomenal progress, climbing from fifth place on 9 December to take the lead in the early hours of this morning before disaster struck.

It has been a tough time for the boats at the front of the fleet. Yesterday afternoon, Jean-Pierre DICK (FRA), who had been leading the race onboard Paprec-Virbac, reported that he had suffered a high speed collision with a floating object and badly damaged the mechanism at the head of his rudder. The Nicois skipper has been forced to slow, deep reefing his mainsail to keep Paprec-Virbac flatter to maintain steerage with his port rudder as he climbs to pass the West Australian ice-security gate.

During yesterday evening's live radio broadcast, DICK said he will fight on and try to affect a repair, "I was sailing about 20 knots of speed when I hit an object in the sea which broke the 'fuse' of my rudder, but while the rudder cam up it destroyed the bearing at the top of the rudder, but also the connecting bar that enables the rudder to go up and down in its case. I am in a bad situation because I can only use the windward rudder which is a big problem when going downwind because I can only use a small area, only three reefs in the main, so I will wait for this big storm to go through. After the gate I will try to gybe and repair the rudder which will become the windward rudder. It is a really complicated repair but I think I can make it, I can make it happen. On the transom it is not going to be easy. I can do funny things on the boat and so I try to do this so I can continue this beautiful race," DICK said.

DICK confirmed this morning that his plan is to cross the ice security gate imminently and then slow to try and effect a repair to his damaged rudders.

Electric Pace

The pace has been nothing short of electric since the leaders reached the Australia ice security gate. GOLDING had been averaging nearly 19 knots overnight before his dismasting, whilst Sébastien JOSSE (BT) recorded more than 450 miles in 24 hours, Jean LE CAM (FRA) more than 460 and this morning, DESJOYEAUX, the most northern boat, made 464.3 miles over 24 hours, which he exceeded at 466.6 miles to 05:50 UTC this morning averaging 19.4 knots.

As the 'second wave' group ascend NE to the ice gate, so a bigger gap has developed between fifth placed LE CAM (FRA) on VM Matériaux and Armel LE CLÉAC'H (FRA) on Brit Air in sixth. This tight packed posse who have raced closely for almost the entire race comprising LE CLÉAC'H, 2004 race winner Vincent RIOU (FRA) on PRB, Marc GUILLEMOT (FRA) on Safran and Yann ELIÈS (FRA) on Generali have together ceded more than 80 miles to the runaway leaders and are now between 250 and 360 miles behind.

Sam DAVIES (GBR) on Roxy slowed while she spent some time fighting from the stern of her Open 60 to remove a large amount of weed ff her keel.

Meanwhile a delicate and carefully executed operation re-floated Bernard STAMM's (SUI) stricken Cheminées Poujoulat early yesterday morning off Portes de Francais in the Kergulen Islands.

Both STAMM and his compatriot Dominique WAVRE (SUI) - skipper of Temenos II which was also forced to take refuge there to effect repairs - had to jump into Cheminée Poujoulat's liferaft at the last minute before the Open 60 was driven ashore in 45 knot winds late on Sunday night. They were taken ashore by Navy divers.

The refloating operation took three hours and involved manoeuvring with a truck, the supply vessel Marion Dufresnes of the Territorre Austral et Antartartic Francais and a team of divers.

"This morning it took us almost three hours to get the boat off with the help of the Marion Dufresnes and all the teams did a great job. Now the boat is afloat, but I don't think she can sail. We're waiting to see what Bernard STAMM wants to do. Yesterday evening, he was completely dispirited about leaving his boat. It really got to him. I think that after a night's sleep, which was very short and probably not very restful, he is feeling a little better this morning," said Frederic MARTINEAU of TAAF.

WAVRE notified Race HQ that he is taking weather advice and plans to leave the Kerguelen Islands for Australia possibly tomorrow.

Vendee Globe Leadeboard - 10:00 UTC 16 December 2008

1. Michel DESJOYEAUX (FRA), Foncia at 13772.2nm to finish
2. Roland JOURDAIN (FRA), Veolia Environnement, + 5.0nm
3. Jean-Pierre DICK (FRA), Paprec-Virbac 2 + 23.2nm
4. Seb JOSSE (FRA), BT + 34.0nm
5. Jean LE CAM (FRA), VM Matériaux + 47.5nm

Click here for all the news on the Vendée Globe.

ISAF (source: Véronique Teurlay)
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