Sailing: Golding in despair

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The Independent Online
AT THE end of one of the bitterest weeks for British sailing, the Briton Mike Golding suddenly finds himself not only lamenting the loss of Glyn Charles during a brutal Sydney to Hobart Race but now also the ruination of an Around Alone Race that he had been leading until the final hours of the second leg from Cape Town to Auckland.

Golding missed the worst of the storm that claimed the life of the talented British Olympic sailor as he tracked his Open 60-footer Group 4 around the bottom of Australia, but was devastated to hear of the loss of Charles, who sailed for him as part of the 1995 British Admiral's Cup team crew. Then, on Friday, his own world fell apart as the single-handed sailor apparently hit a sandbar on the northern tip of New Zealand and damaged Group 4s innovative swinging keel causing serious leaks and forcing Golding to head for the shelter of the shore.

As the leg winner Giovanni Soldini was celebrating his 27-day, five-hour win in Auckland a tantalising 200 miles away, Golding was struggling to stay in the race. Eventually he was forced to accept a tow to the shelter of Mangonui Bay where his shore team and the boat's designer were on hand to assess the damage. But in doing so he exceeded the 10-mile tow limit imposed by the race organisers and was therefore auto- matically disqualified from the leg. Golding, who until the accident, was in second place on the leg and who held a comfortable overall lead, spent last night facing up to the reality that his overall prospects in a race he was desperate to win are now gone. His sponsor Group 4 has reaffirmed its commitment to Golding should he decide to continue with the race. But the dejected sailor will have to decide over the next few days if he has the personal resources to continue.

But while Golding oversees repairs to his boat and charts the course of his future over the next few months, British interest in the race continues. Mike Garside lies second in Class Two and is due to finish on Wednesday. Robin Davie, meanwhile, is lying last. The Briton is not scheduled to arrive in Auckland until 3 February, two months after the Cape Town leg two start.