Mike Golding is battling 30 headwinds to reach Alex Thomson aboard stricken yacht Hugo Boss 23/11/06

Following keel failure on Alex Thomson’s Hugo Boss deep in the Southern Ocean this morning, British sailor Mike Golding (currently in second place) has immediately responded to the requests for assistance from his nearest rival in the Velux 5 Oceans race around the world, and has now turned Ecover round to head upwind in order to help his compatriot and fellow competitor.

At 0330hrs this morning Thomson’s Open 60 Hugo Boss suffered a failure of the hydraulic keel rams which control the top of keel enabling it to cant to up to 40 degrees to increase the effective stability of the boat. While Thomson is reported to be uninjured, he was working with his shore-team to try to effect a solution, and is reported to be drifting downwind with no sails up making 8 to 9 knots.

The skippers are in contact with Velux 5 Oceans Race control who are monitoring the positions of the boats, and have also requested Koji Shiraishi on Spirit of Yukoh make best speed towards Hugo Boss.

Based on Hugo Boss’s last position, some 80 miles due west of Ecover, Golding will have to sail upwind in 30 knots of wind and big seas to rendezvous with Thomson. Plans to rescue Thomson from his yacht are being formulated. Any mid ocean transfer in such big seas and high winds will not be easy.