Knox-Johnston praises Golding on a "professional operation" and takes extra precautions 24/11/06

Time and date0900 Friday 24 November 2006
PositionLatitude 27 50S Longitude 21 00W

Sir Robin emailed Mike Golding to congratulate him on his rescue of Alex Thomson earlier today.

“BZ – Well done Mike. A nice and tidy, professional operation. There is no higher praise. Can’t get through on Iridium to chat as you are always busy, understandably. BZ = Signal for Well done! RKJ.”

Knox-Johnston reports onboard Saga Insurance: “The good news today is that Alex is safe and, knowing him, it won’t be long before he is out racing again, but it is a very sad end to this project for him.

Mike did not need to be asked once he knew Alex’s situation, he turned back immediately as you would expect. Giving assistance is not just a voluntary thing though – it is an international obligation and takes precedence over all racing rules. Indeed if someone refused to go and assist someone in trouble they would, subject to a protest being made, be disqualified from the race and possibly receive a longer disqualification from the International body that governs sailing. That said their are also procedures to allow for redress, that is to compensate Mike and Kojiro for the time they lose making the collection so their races do not suffer from a competitive point of view.

It is an axiom in these races that the nearest assistance will most likely come from another competitor, and apart from some excellent exceptions by the Royal Australian Navy it usually has. The reason is that there is so little commercial shipping using the Southern Ocean so there are not the large Merchant Ships there to assist. But in any case, this mutual support amongst single-handers goes with the general ethos of self-sufficiency.

Pressing on, had both the genneker and the spinnaker up yesterday until it all became too much for the spinnaker and we broached at a happy 17 knots. Got it down after a tussle of some 40 minutes and decided I’d go for safety in view of the dark clouds around and set the jib. I’m glad I did as there was another auto pilot failure later and if I’d had anything less controllable set we could have been knocked flat. I think I am going to have to accept a change to my work/sleep pattern. I really cannot afford to have the steering go when I have big sails set unless I am on watch. When I need to sleep I will need to cut down the sail area so that if it takes me time to respond to the alarm at least the damage will be limited. It will mean slowing down, which is a right B—-d, but the alternative is diversion to Cape Town and that would lose even more time.”