£4m catamaran limps back to port

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The Independent Online

The £4M catamaran built by the sailing veteran Pete Goss to revolutionise yacht racing limped back once more into port for repairs after a design fault was discovered yesterday, just 18 hours into a sea trial.

The £4M catamaran built by the sailing veteran Pete Goss to revolutionise yacht racing limped back once more into port for repairs after a design fault was discovered yesterday, just 18 hours into a sea trial.

The test voyage to New York, described by Mr Goss as "Judgement Day", was abandoned after the crew of his Team Philips boat noticed excessive movement in one of the 135ft twin masts.

Experts were waiting to lift the structure out of its holding socket last night to examine a bearing mechanism, which allows the masts to rotate freely from their position on the hull of the 120ft-long craft. The setback is the second serious technical problem to hit the Goss project in six months. A 40ft section of the port bow snapped off during the first sea trials in March while sailing in calm waters off the Isles of Scilly.

Mr Goss, 38, a former Royal Marine, has to ensure the boat is ready for The Race, the non-stop circumnavigation of the globe starting from Barcelona on 31 December for which Team Philips was built. The repairs to correct the latest fault will take weeks.

Speaking from the Devon port of Dartmouth, where the giant catamaran arrived at 8.30am for examination, Mr Goss said: "Once we know what is wrong, we are going to have to replicate the work on the other mast. It is more than a matter of days."

The decision to abandon the 20-day voyage to America was taken late on Thursday after crew members spotted the swaying in the mast and Mr Goss, the skipper, held a tele-conference with team members ashore. Organisers at the hi-tech dock in Totnes where the boat was put together are now expected to switch the sea trials to the east Atlantic, close to the Bay of Biscay where the craft was heading on Thursday.

The vessel was relaunched last Saturday. It must be in Monaco by 13 December to take part in a prologue race before heading for Barcelona.

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