Sailing: Thomson at the mercy of Roaring Forties after keel damage

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A daring rescue attempt for stricken solo British yachtsman Alex Thomson was under way last night as compatriot and rival Mike Golding battled upwind against the Roaring Forties gales and big seas of the Southern Ocean to pick him up.

Thomson, from Gosport, was still aboard Hugo Boss as it drifted helplessly after the keel of his Open 60 racing yacht failed in the early hours yesterday in the Velux 5 Oceans Race.

In 30-knot winds, Thomson, 32, reported: "I was in my bunk grabbing a quick power kip when I was suddenly thrown across the cabin as the boat broached [swerved violently up into the wind]. I can't believe it. I'm absolutely devastated."

The boat was flattened to the point where the mast was almost in the water, but Thomson managed to pull down the already reduced sails and it righted itself.

He was taking part in the first leg of the round the world race from Bilbao to Fremantle. The race authorities contacted Golding nearly eight hours after the incident and by then he was 80 miles ahead, having retaken second place from Thomson. They asked him to turn round from his position about 1,000 miles south of South Africa.