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Major set-back for Mike Golding

The British Vendee Globe legend looks back at Gamesa's dismasting

Friday May 4th 2012, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom

Mike Golding's Vendee Globe campaign took a turn for the worse when his IMOCA 60 Gamesa dismasted while sailing in the Solent on Wednesday. The cause was the furling gear for the Solent which 'exploded'.

According to Golding, the dismasting occurred in 12 knots while sailing upwind in flat water, ie not boat breaking conditions. "It was obviously something that was latent, just sitting there waiting to break and obviously it is unfortunate it broke then," said the British singlehanded round the world veteran, who is gunning for his fourth participation in the Vendee Globe this autumn.

The mast came down relatively gently, falling back aft, didn't break and on first observation only has cosmetic damage. While the dismasting was unfortunate, that it came down in benign conditions and particularly flat water meant no further damage occurred to the boat subsequently.

“I’m pretty gutted," admitted Golding. "It was a little too light to do proper training, but we had enough breeze to work the boat up and get some pressure on the boat and this is the result. So pretty disappointing really, but better now than later on in the year, at least we have some time to sort it out so now we just have to deal with it."

He believes the bottom spreaders will probably need replacing and there is damage around the mast foot. Of more concern in the build-up to the Vendee Globe is that the result will be around six weeks of downtime as they wait for custom components, especially the composite rigging, to be replaced. "The rigging in particular will need looking at and we probably need to be changing it because it has been bent in bad directions, and the lead times on those components are pretty long."

Aside from the rig, the dismasting also damaged the coachroof and Golding said that whether this could be fixed in situ or if the boat would have to be taken into a shed was largely weather dependent.

The surveyors are due to inspect Gamesa today to make a full assessment of the damage. This will involve ultra-sounding the mast to see if there is any damage to it that is not visible.

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