Sailing: Collapsed sail delays Golding

Having closed to within one mile of the leader in the Vendée Globe round-the-world race, the snake bit hard yesterday, dumping Mike Golding 50 miles and back into third place behind Vincent Riou, who is just over one mile ahead of Jean le Cam.

The blow was struck by the old problem, gear failure. Just before dawn, 600 miles west of Argentina, the halyard which holds up the mainsail of Golding's 60-footer, Ecover, parted. The sail came crashing down and Golding lost time as he attached an emergency back-up and re-hoisted the heavy sail. He then spent three hours up the 85ft mast making repairs.

Ellen MacArthur should be able to point the triple bows of her 75ft B&Q further north tomorrow as she rounds Cape Horn and starts the final 7,500 miles of her attempt to set a record for sailing around the world.

Going into her 44th day, she still has nearly five days in hand of the 28 available to beat the 72 days 22hr 54min set last February by Francis Joyon. Ice and storms should not be the problem any more, but the south Atlantic and the Doldrums are the unpredictable traps.

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