Following the failure of the furling gear and subsequent dismasting yesterday, 2 May, of Mike Golding’s 60 foot IMOCA, Gamesa, Mike, and his Boat Captain, Graham Tourell, speak candidly about the importance of the results of tomorrow’s ultrasound testing and the plan going forward ….

Mike Golding: “We were in 12 knots of breeze going upwind, nothing exceptional. It was a quiet day, flat water. You wouldn’t have expected any sort of failure like that in these conditions so it was obviously something that was latent, just sitting there waiting to break and obviously it is unfortunate it broke then.

“At least like this, the mast is unbroken and potentially undamaged, other than cosmetic damage. The bottom spreaders probably need replacing, there is a little bit of damage around the foot, but the mast itself landed on the boat quite gently, it really was quite gentle so in that regard there is a good chance the downtime won’t be as long as it might have been.

“I’m pretty gutted. It was a little too light to do proper training, but we had enough breeze to work the boat up and get some pressure on the boat and this is the result. So pretty disappointing really, but better now than later on in the year, at least we have some time to sort it out so now we just have to deal with it.

“The biggest damage is from a training perspective, it puts a big hole in that plan. We have a minimum six weeks of down time and the problem is not so much the damage, but the lead time on the components [we’ll need] as a lot of these are custom components. The rigging in particular will need looking at and we probably need to be changing it because it has been bent in bad directions, and the lead times on those components are pretty long. I think six weeks, optimistically four maybe, it just depends ….. And we are in the lap of the weather. If we are able to, we can repair the boat and the damage to the coach roof outside if the weather is clement …. but it is a completely different ball game if we have to lift the boat out of the water and inside a shed and with those things you multiple the lead times. But it is a little early to say.

We need to survey the damage: we have non-destructive testing surveyors coming on Friday, the insurers have been informed, our sponsors, and we have done all the things we can do now, we just have to pick up the sticks and make sure we don’t break anything else and get ourselves going.

“In the context of the Vendée Globe, it is disappointing as we lose some training time, but on the other hand, I suppose we have learned something valuable and this could have happened at any point so in the context of the Vendée I doubt it will have a real negative effect and I’m hopeful that the rig is ok and we can get ourselves going. But it is obviously very disappointing.

“I will go home and cry about it later, but the reality is that there is nothing else you can do. We are on a mission to the Vendée, that is where we are going and this won’t stop us.”

Graham Tourell, Boat Captain, Gamesa: “It is a sorry picture behind me as you can see. The Solent drum basically exploded while we were sailing in the Solent [off the Isle of Wight], causing the rig to come down, in one piece, thankfully. You can see the aftermath of it and we are getting ready to crane it off and see what damage lies beneath.

“If there was any luck involved in the dismasting, we have probably had it today because it was perfectly flat water, luckily the rig came down straight on the back of the boat and didn’t go in the water otherwise we would have had hull damage as well, so we will wait and see what lurks beneath.

“It all seemed to run in slow motion. Obviously a big bang, then as the rig started falling backwards, it was a case of getting everyone clear. Mike and Mikey were both in the cockpit and I was just up looking up the rig and as it went bang, I had to dive out the way of it. It was very calm and controlled on board, rather than all going round and cutting lines. We all have enough experience where you don’t go into a flat spin and panic, it is just a case of letting the dust settle and see what we are dealing with.

“What happens now? The mast will be craned off the boat, then the main [sail] off, which is trapped underneath the rig, daggerboards have to come out, then the surveyors come and test the integrity of the rig to make sure it is fine, even though it is in one piece, we need to make sure there is no damage, same with the sails, everything will need to get looked at as there will have been big spike loads as the rig went. Once we have everything off the boat, that is when the work begins really.

“We’ll take it all in our stride and get Mike out sailing again as quickly as we can. Any sort of saving grace is that we have time to put the boat back together again and get Mike in tip-top shape for the Vendée Globe. If it were two months before the Vendée, we’d be in panic mode, but as it is at the moment we are fine.

“There has been a lot of talk recently about rigging partly because of what has been happening in the Volvo and we have been monitoring it closely, but what has happened today is absolutely nothing to do with the rigging, it is blatantly obvious that it was 100% one of the furling drums that exploded, which there is absolutely nothing you can do about it, to prevent it or foresee it. It is one of those bits of kit that shouldn’t be failing. As far as the whole rigging discussion goes, there is no question about what has happened here, it is not related to rigging whatsoever.”