Golding out of Around Alone as he hits a rock just 250 miles from the end of the second leg

Mike Golding’s Open 60 Team Group 4, overall leader in Around Alone, the single-handed round the world race, hit a submerged object, believed to be a rock, while rounding Cape Reinga at New Zealand’s northern tip at 2000 local time (0700 GMT). After weeks at sea, the incident occured only 250 miles from the finish of the event’s second leg. He is reported to have been lying a mile off the coast at the time of the incident where a shoal is clearly marked. The collision knocked the 4.2m deep swing keel aft in the boat, leaving it racked aft and rupturing the main bulkhead and the watertight case for the keel canting mechanism. At 2009 local Golding issued a Mayday to which the fishing vessel Happy 1 responded via the Far North Coast Guard station. Golding was not injured in the accident and was able to prevent the yacht sinking by closing the numerous watertight bulkheads in the boat. He reported that there was 18in of water in the hull which had swamped his batteries and he had stemmed the flow. The collision is believed to have pulled the two massive hydraulic rams, used to cant the keel to weather, off their mounts. (The rams are positioned athwartships, either side of the top of keel foil which extends a few feet inside the hull. The keel hinge obviously lets in water and so is surrounded by a watertight box into which the ends of the rams protrude to attach to the top of the keel). At 2230 local GOlding accepted a tow, but the nearest safe harbour around the inhospital Cape Reigna seemed to be Doubtless Bay some 50 miles away. Under the Around Alone rules vessels can only be towed for a maximum of 10 miles if they are forced to make port in the event of damage. “Obviously our first concern was for Mike’s welfare and safety,” commented Race Director, Mark Schrader. “When he called he said he’d issued a Mayday and was waiting for a tow. I made it clear to him that accepting a tow of more than 10 miles would disqualify him from the race as I wanted him to understand the implications clearly.” After his resounding win in leg 1 of the race, Golding was lying in second place on the second leg of Around Alone between Cape Town and Auckland and had he finished would have retained his overall lead of the race. It is ironic that in this and the last two races the winning boats from the first leg have each suffered disaster on the second – John Martin hitting an iceberg in 1990/1, Isabelle Autissier losing her rig and then destroying her yacht four years ago. At the time of writing Giovanni Soldini and his yacht Fila were lying first but in the headwinds and with problems to his forestay that are preventing him getting good headstay tension, the Italian skipper’s progress was slow. He was due to finish in Auckland at around 0600 local