As Golding limps to the finish line the news spreads around Les Sables d'Olonne

Mike Golding has got to be ranked among the unluckiest of competitors in the Vendee Globe. Having led the race, lost the lead and broken his main halyard a total of three times on the final stretch up the Atlantic Golding he finally resigned himself to the fact that he was going to have to settle for third overall.

Not an ideal scenario for this determined British yachtsman but at least, as he admitted himself, it was a fantastic race and if the halyard problem was his biggest concern of the race then he classed himself a fortunate man.

Imagine then Golding’s horror when he discovered, with just six hours to go to the estimated finish time today, a serious problem with the keel? He’d sailed 25,000 miles around the world and, as literally thousands of well wishers lined the canal banks to welcome the British hero back to Les Sables d’Olonne the announcement was made about the keel.

Not surprisingly the mood here in Les Sables d’Olonne is fairly sombre. The buzz of excitement usually associated with one of the world’s sailing heroes arriving in town has been deflated and all everyone can do now is wait in hope for news of Golding managing to cross the finish line safely.

If, however, there were a positive side to this unfortunate news, it would have to be the fact it happened where it did, just off the finish line and not the Southern Ocean.