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Last Updated: Friday, 24 November 2006, 16:27 GMT
Golding blow after rival rescue
Mike Golding
Golding battled high seas, strong winds and snow to rescue Thomson
Just hours after rescuing Alex Thomson from his capsized boat, Mike Golding's Five Oceans round-the-world race is also in trouble with a broken mast.

Thomson was third when his yacht overturned in the Southern Ocean and caused irreparable damage to his keel.

British compatriot Golding sailed 80 miles back upwind to pick up his rival.

But six hour later, Golding reported that his boat Ecover had a broken mast and he and Thomson must head to Cape town 1,000 miles away for repairs.

It was the most terrifying and emotional experience of my life

Alex Thomson
He confirmed that the mast had broken in two places, the first just above the main spreaders and the second about 1.5 metres from the top of the mast.

But the mainsail is still intact and all the sails are remain on board the boat other than the genoa.

Golding and Thomson are working together to get back under sail with a staysail and a reefed mainsail so that they can start the journey to South Africa before making any declarations that they are definitely out of the race.

Only a few hours earlier Golding produced a daring rescue of Thomson when his rival was forced to abandon ship.

Thomson said: "It was the most terrifying and emotional experience of my life. I am hugely grateful to Mike for turning back to rescue me.

"This yacht has been my life for three years. It was very distressing to look back and see Hugo Boss in such a sorry state."

Golding arrived on the scene on Thursday night and the one-and-a-half hour boat-to-boat rescue operation was completed early on Friday morning.

Thomson left his boat in a life raft while Golding sailed alongside and pulled him to safety.

I have learnt so much already in this race about how hard to push the boat and when to hold back and I'm gutted

Alex Thomson
But it took four attempts to get him on board Golding's yacht.

Golding said: "We decided not to carry out the transfer until this morning until the sun was well up. We converged again and had a very tricky pick-up. Very scary."

The 32-year-old's yacht capsized in the early hours of Thursday morning and he had been trying desperately to repair the keel which was swinging freely.

"I can't believe it - if there was any way I could continue I would, but I have no option," said Thomson.

"To have such a severe problem with my keel, something which I have no control over, is absolutely devastating.

"I have learnt so much already in this race about how hard to push the boat and when to hold back and I'm gutted."

Thomson, of Gosport, had been closing in on second-placed compatriot Golding, of Southampton, when the accident happened.

"I was in my bunk when I was suddenly thrown across the cabin as the boat broached," he added.

"The boat was leaning right over on its side. I went back up on deck and took all of the sails down, then finally the boat righted itself."

Swiss defending champion Bernard Stamm still leads the race, followed by Golding, with Japan's Kojiro Shiraishi now moving up to third ahead of British veteran Robin Knox-Johnston, Graham Dalton and Unai Basurko.

The fleet left Spanish port Bilbao in October and the first leg of the race is set to finish in Fremantle in Australia in early December before returning to Bilbao in April.

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Knox-Johnston back on race track
28 Oct 06 |  Sailing
New challenge for sailing legend
22 Sep 06 |  Hampshire


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