Mike Sanderson yacht Pindar AlphaGraphics has sustained serious damage to its starboard daggerboard

Mike Sanderson, who has been locked in a fierce match race with Mike Golding at the head of the Open 60 fleet of The Transat, last night revealed that his yacht, Pindar AlphaGraphics, has sustained serious damage which looks set to ruin his hopes of victory.

Sanderson, 32, from New Zealand, reported late last night that his starboard daggerboard had shattered at approximately 1400 GMT on Friday 4 June whilst sailing in 45 knot winds in the peak of the storms that hit the Transat fleet and led to three other boats retiring from the race. At the time, Sanderson was also faced with a temporarily broken autopilot and no wind instruments, and had to endure a marathon eight-hour stint at the helm before he could go down below.

As soon as the breakage happened, Sanderson, who is one of the world’s top sailors but is competing in his first ever solo race, tacked onto starboard to ensure he did not lose boat speed. Fortunately for the Kiwi sailor, racing over the following three days was predominately downwind, enabling Sanderson to continue to challenge Mike Golding for first position.

But overnight on Tuesday and throughout the day yesterday (Wednesday), a change in wind conditions left Sanderson with no option but to sail on port tack. This caused Pindar AlphaGraphics to be pulled sideways, and the hole left in the boat’s hull by the missing daggerboard created drag, slowing Sanderson’s progress.

Although the breakage is frustrating for Sanderson and looks sure to prevent him from having the chance to win his debut solo race, he has far from given up, and a podium finish in Boston is still within his grasp. For Mike and the Pindar team, the race has already been a great success as they have shown what Pindar AlphaGraphics is capable of. Furthermore, whatever the outcome of the race, Sanderson has proved that he can compete on the world stage in solo sailing.

Mike said from on board: “I have learnt a huge amount on my first solo race and I am very happy that we have shown how quick the boat is. Up to now I have not been affected by the broken dagger board but now it will slow me down. It is very frustrating that it is going to affect the outcome of the race but things could have been a great deal worse as we have seen with the two dismastings and Bernard Stamm’s loss of keel. I am going to push as hard as possible all the way to the finish and hunt down Ecover right to the line.”

Andrew Pindar said: “Mike didn’t want to make a big deal about the broken daggerboard as it was not affecting his speed at the time, but now it is clearly going to make a difference and so we felt it is right that we reveal the extent of the damage to the boat. We are very proud of Mike’s performance in this race and believe that he has shown what both he and the boat are capable of.”