Sailing: Dream ends after a bump in the night: Sudden split in the starboard hull ruins Enza's chances while Golding goes for gold: In his final report from on board Enza New Zealand, Peter Blake, the co-skipper, airs the crew's defiance

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The Independent Online
THE hazards of compromise between building for speed and / or safety have been made starkly apparent in the Jules Verne Trophy and the goal of sailing round the world in 80 days.

The remaining catamaran in the trio of multihulls which set out this year, Bruno Peyron's Commodore Explorer, also now has reported a construction problem. They have a split in one hull, have had to reduce speed drastically and are now asking on the radio about suitable ports in New Zealand to go for repairs.

They have already asked their Paris shore team to investigate the possibility of 'commando' assistance off New Zealand, Cape Horn and Recife, in north-east Brazil, on the way home.

Robin Knox-Johnston, the co- skipper of Enza, said yesterday: 'After structural damage like this, with three-quarters of the Southern Ocean to go, Commodore's chances of getting round must be seriously in doubt.' Knox-Johnston and Peter Blake continue to make their way to Cape Town for repairs.

Position: 41 degrees south, 56 degrees east.

WE KNEW it wasn't going to be easy, but sitting here writing this perhaps goes some way to alleviating some of the intense frustration that I feel at this moment. 80 days around the world, under sail only, with no outside assistance - that's what we set out to achieve. It hasn't been done before, which was reason enough to 'give it a go'.

We were three days ahead of our schedule and thought a time of 75 days to be a possibility but at 11 on Friday night, our dreams and expectations folded around us. Sailing at high speed in a lumpy sea in the pitch dark of a Southern Ocean night, a louder bang than normal was of no great surprise to anyone. But for the crewman asleep in the starboard hull, the water level rising above the level of his bunk came as a shock.

Imagine being blissfully asleep with another few hours to go before having to face the driving spray and discomfort of the wet-weather clothing, and to be rudely awoken with your bunk going underwater.

Anyway, with all hands to the pumps we soon had the level down and were able to see the damage. We had obviously hit something very hard which had caused a split in the hull, a split that we can patch for now, but can't repair sufficiently to carry on to the east. There were few second thoughts. Our challenge was, and is, over.

We are out of the Jules Verne Trophy. We won't be passing Australia and New Zealand in a couple of weeks' time. We won't have the thrill of sailing around Cape Horn. We won't be rocketing back up the Atlantic with the anticipation of success just over the horizon. Well, not this year, anyway. We are out.

The frustration seen in the crew is tangible. It is hard to realise that instead of the continuing charge at high speed around the planet, we are now going to be travelling at slow speed towards the safety and repair facilities of South Africa.

Passports? Well, we weren't planning to stop off anywhere, were we? Shore-going clothes? I hope the South Africans don't mind us in our thermal long johns.

Soon after we had the problem under control, I phoned our sponsors, the New Zealand Apple and Pear marketing board, who have been so good to us throughout this somewhat crazy but exciting event. They continue to be fully understanding (I think . . .).

I phoned my wife, Pippa, who has been involved with all of my sailing. She was responsible for all of our food and menus for this trip. After a stunned silence following an enjoyable night at the theatre, she staggered me with 'well, you will have to do it again'. I continue to marvel at this never-wavering support that I enjoy from my family, even though it means being away from home for too long.

But for now, we sit here somewhat dejected at the bottom of the southern Indian Ocean. Except that we are all saying 'next time'. I asked for a show of hands from the crew as to who would want to go again. Unanimous.

Our adventure may have altered its course, but it continues to be just that. An adventure, and despite the recent frustrations and disappointments, the most amazing sailing we have experienced over the past month has made every second worthwhile.

Even now, we wouldn't change places with anyone.

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