Mike Golding successfully rescues Alex Thomson from stricken yacht in Southern Ocean 24/11/06

Between the hours of 0445 and 0630 GMT this morning a dramatic rescue operation took place in the treacherous icy waters of the Southern Ocean.

Devastated solo sailor Alex Thomson (GBR) abandoned his yacht Hugo Boss, after it suffered severe structural failure to the keel, and transferred via life raft to Mike Golding’s yacht Ecover.

Thomson and Golding (GBR) both highly experienced yachtsmen and fellow competitors in the Velux 5 Oceans race, carried out the rescue operation with the utmost caution. It took four attempts to get Thomson safely onboard Ecover and the transfer took one hour and 45 minutes.

Golding who is on his sixth global circumnavigation described the crucial minutes of the rescue as ‘very scary at times.” The rescue took place approximately 1000 miles SE of the Cape of Good Hope, deep in the Southern Ocean. The winds were around 25 knots but the high seas prevented close contact between the two Open 60 yachts.”
Wearing his survival suit Thomson took to his life-raft and had to drift free of Hugo Boss before Golding could manoeuvre Ecover close enough to get close to the liferaft.
“We decided not to carry out the transfer until this morning until the sun was well up. We converged again and had a very tricky pick up. Very scary, very tricky pick up. Even although there is not a huge amount of wind, 20-25 knots of wind and Alex had to set himself adrift in the liferaft which must have been equally scary. And then I had problems with the throttle controls on the engine, then the shear pins in the engine broke when I was trying to manoeuvre and then the gear linkage broke, so pretty much the engine has been a waste of space!

“In the end we did get him with the engine. It took four attempts and I am just delighted to have him on board. I think my first words were ‘welcome on board’.
“Alex says he slept like a log and I woke him up with the phone when the time came. On the other hand I spent most of the night playing Solitaire.”
More news when we have it.