Mike Golding should arrive in La Coruna by mid afternoon to carry out repairs to Ecover 24/10/06

British entrant in the Velux 5 Oceans solo round the world race Mike Golding on Ecover is being forced to make a pit stop in La Coruna.

Early this morning he was making fair progress sailing under Solent jib only in 17 to 18 knots of wind and is expected to arrive at the port sometime mid-afternoon today.

Mike made the tough decision to head for the Galician haven yesterday evening when he suffered damage to three of the mainsail batten boxes which retain the forward end of the mainsail battens and connect them to the mainsail track which runs up the mast.

Due to the 50-60 knot winds Ecover’s mainsail was almost completely down when the incident occurred. With no mainsail to turn the bow of the boat through a tack Mike was forced to gybe to turn the boat. It is understood that the extreme force of the wind was such that it whipped the exposed top section of the mainsail across the boat with such force that it snapped three of the steel pins which attach the batten box to the mast-track slider.

Ecover’s shore team Graham ‘Gringo’ Tourrell, Simon Clay and Martin Piquet made an overnight dash from Getxo, Bilbao where the race started on Sunday and are all set to make repairs. They will be joined there later today by Pete Cumming.

Andrea, Mike’s wife, who spoke to Mike last night said : “He was understandably feeling pretty low when we spoke after a full on day and very little sleep or food since the start. He was also suffering a minor bash on his head having been caught off balance while below in some very big seas.”

Race rules now require a mandatory 48-hour stop, timed from the moment Mike starts Ecover’s engine this afternoon. As well as the batten box repairs the shore team have a full job list of smaller tasks to complete.

“The repair itself should not take that long. We have the spares and will put more on board but there are some small repairs to make to the mainsail which should not require it coming off the boat. The autopilot requires some attention and the inside of the boat has kit everywhere, it sounds a bit of a mess so we will use all the time we have.” explained Simon Clay this morning.