Shortly after taking the lead Mike Golding is dismasted in winds of over 55 knots

Having only just taken the overall lead ( read previous story here ) in the Vendée Globe British solo skipper Mike Golding was cruelly dismasted in the Indian Ocean this morning at 0647 hrs GMT reporting to Race HQ shortly afterwards that the rig of Ecover 3 had collapsed when he was caught in winds of over 55 knots.

Golding is about 940 miles SW of Perth, Australia. The British skipper had gained a lead of 30 miles over Jean-Pierre Dick, who himself had suffered rudder damage yesterday. Golding and had been sailing under a changed sail configuration when the sudden rise in wind speed forced Ecover 3 over on her side.

“I was just out on deck when a squall came through with winds of 55knots. I had the main with two reefs and a reacher and had been like that for two hours. Overnight we had winds of up to 45k so I had two reefs and a staysail and then changed to the new configuration in the early morning,” commented a very calm Golding this morning. “It basically went from being a near gale to a hurricane, and the mast didn’t like it.”

Golding had managed to secure a 30 mile lead over second places Paprec Virbac after 36 days of racing. “I was just getting into my jacket when the boat rounded up and then heeled right over. I heard a bang and immediately went back below deck and waited until the noise had stopped.”

“The whole rig is down, there is not even a stump left. Once everything had settled down a bit I went back out and the mast was lying across the deck and was acting as an anchor. When things stopped moving about dramatically I set about cutting off the rig. There is some superficial damage to the boat, but nothing major.”

“My options now are controlled by what I can set up as a jury and unfortunately I don’t have much left. I am about 1500nm south of Perth and Adelaide, so whatever the deal will be to try and cover 1500 miles somehow. I managed to save the boom but have lost all my sails, other than storm staysail but this will probably fit and then I will how to work out how to fly something off the back of that.”

“But whatever I do, I will only be able to reach and will not be able to go up or downwind. I am gutted. But there is not much I can do about it.”