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Holder withdraws from transatlantic race

Two of Britain's best known singlehanded yachtsmen yesterday withdrew from next month's transatlantic race from Plymouth to Boston as they wrestled with major repairs to their boats.

The current title holder Mike Golding has been in a race against time trying to fit a new keel to his Open 60 Ecover in northern France but he has run out of time to be on the start line on 11 May. The original keel failed when sailing back to Brest from Brazil in December and the knock on has also been that Dee Caffari, at present on her way to Plymouth from Lisbon, will also have a replacement keel for her sistership Aviva.

In south Brittany at Lorient, Brian Thompson also announced that his rival 60-footer, Pindar, would also not be ready in time as he has yet to test a new mast. The powerful yacht designed by Juan Kouyoumdjian, also designer for Britain's Origin America's Cup challenge, has twice been dismasted.

"She's an unbelievable boat and we are all still very excited but, for now, the focus is on getting her back in the water and securing sponsorship for the Vendee Globe," said Thompson yesterday.