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The BBC's George Eykyn
"The world's biggest catamaran may never be seen again"
 real 56k

Friday, 22 December, 2000, 14:51 GMT
Team Philips yacht lost
Team Philips
Team Philips during race preparations
The trouble-hit Team Philips has abandoned hope of recovering its 4m catamaran and is withdrawing from a prestigious round-the-world race.

Skipper Pete Goss confirmed the news, saying: "This is a very sad day for all of us."


This is a very sad day for all of us

Pete Goss, Team Philips skipper
The super yacht was believed to be drifting in the Atlantic after being hit by heavy winds in gale force conditions.

However, an extensive aerial search has failed to find the giant craft.

Experts have also lost a satellite link, which had helped pinpoint its exact location.

Team Philips had set sail on 2 December for sea trials to prepare for a non-stop round-the-world race setting out from Barcelona on 31 December.

The crew was forced to abandon ship on 10 December after their vessel was battered by giant waves.

Mr Goss told a press conference on Friday that losing the vessel was "like losing a friend".

'Dignity'

But he added that sometimes you have to admit defeat.

"We have done everything we can, we can look defeat in the eye with dignity," he said.

"She was a wonderful boat, she embodied the spirit of the team. We chose to drive in the fast lane and accepted the consequences.

"We knew things like this could happen. We have to take it on the chin. Team Philips had this fantastic short-lived brilliance - and that is all we are going to see."

Team troubles
March 2000: Vessel launched in Devon, on second attempt
March 2000: Returns from first sea trial after section of port bow snaps
October 2000: Heads to New York, but returns with more problems
December 2000: Crew evacuated in mid-Atlantic storms
He added that if the craft was re-located, its sponsors had agreed to work with crew members to "take the appropriate steps that her condition dictates".

It has been estimated by at least one marine expert that it could cost up to 1m to salvage the stricken catamaran.

The revolutionary 120ft-long catamaran is the size of the centre court at Wimbledon.

In October, it was forced to turn back 18 hours into a trial voyage to New York after one of its masts began to sway.

In March, it suffered near disaster off the Isles of Scilly when part of its starboard bow snapped off.

She was re-launched in September after 250,000 worth of strengthening and repairs.

Mr Goss made world headlines when he turned back in a Southern Ocean hurricane to rescue fellow competitor Raphael Dinelli in the 1996-97 Vendee Globe round the world single handed race.

His won the French Legion d'honneur for the rescue.

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