The month long refit began on Mike Golding's Open 60 Ecover last Friday in Cowes

The month long refit began on Mike Golding’s Open 60 Ecover last Friday in the Medina Yard, Cowes Isle of Wight.

After his amazing achievement during the fifth edition of the Vendée Globe, non-stop solo race around the world, finishing third of an incredible boat chase, Mike Golding and his Open 60 two weeks ago reached their homeport, Ocean Village in Southampton. With the final celebrations now over, the skipper and his shore crew are racing against the clock to prepare the boat in time for the next IMOCA event, the crewed Calais Round Britain Race, due to leave Calais on 22 May.

This is no small undertaking for the 2004 IMOCA World Champion (after achieving a podium position in the Vendée Globe Mike remains in the lead with 22 points ahead of Vincent Riou and 29 of Jean Le Cam) as the refit will involve the replacement of the keel, which fell off just 51 miles from the Vendee Globe finish line. The shore crew led by Project Manager, Graham ‘Gringo’ Tourell, with the help of the MGYR Challenge 67 team lifted the rig out of the boat last Tuesday afternoon and motored the monohull to Cowes where she was hoisted out of the water on Friday morning revealing for the first time her keel-less hull.

Mike Golding, present during the whole operation, commented: “I knew something was missing! More seriously, there’s really nothing left. It’s a mystery and we all have a huge workload ahead of us to try to understand what might have happened and to find solutions for it not to happen again.”

The boat’s architect Merfyn Owen, who also insisted on being present for the operation, declared: “It is beyond comprehension. Now that the boat is out of the water, we will analyse the point of breakage and try to understand what happened. Once we do understand the reasons for the failure, which will only happen once the keel elements are removed and analysed, in the interest of safety we will make this information broadly available.”

With three months to go before the next IMOCA race, the countdown has begun for the majority of boats in the class (Ecover, Sill and Véolia, Virbac-Paprec). All teams are keen to be on the start line for this popular race and Mike Golding Yacht Racing will do everything possible to reach that goal.