Following the rescue of Alex Thomson and subsequent mast damage sustained to the Open 60 ECOVER, British skipper Mike Golding has today confirmed in Cape Town that he will retire from competing further in the Velux 5 Oceans Race.
This decision follows Golding's dramatic rescue of fellow competitor Alex Thomson and the subsequent dismasting of ECOVER in the Southern Ocean, 1000 miles off the southern tip of Africa.
Since the incident Golding's team has worked tirelessly to find various solutions that would allow the yacht to continue racing. The team has received fantastic support from its sponsor Ecover, and the team's technical suppliers - each of whom were prepared to do whatever it takes to help ECOVER and Mike rejoin the race. Other generous offers of help have also been received from around the world.
' The decision to retire has been a very difficult one and one that has been taken in consultation with my sponsor, Ecover. Clearly the timings and costs are a major factor, but from a competitive and safety standpoint there are additional factors that have finally led us to make this choice.
'Competitively ECOVER will now be unable to catch the other boats on this leg. Therefore from a safety standpoint, ECOVER would be completely alone in the Southern Ocean without the safety cover extended by fellow competitors. Alex's problems and his consequent need to be rescued is a sharp reminder than we cannot ignore the safety implications of restarting from Cape Town so far behind the main fleet.
'As a team we also pride ourselves on high levels of planning and preparation in pursuit of excellence. To rejoin the race at this stage would put us firmly on the back foot and safety may well be compromised. This is unacceptable to me, the team and to our sponsor.'
Mike Golding set out from Bilbao in October with the main objective being to win the Velux 5 Oceans Race. Until the dismasting this was still a totally achievable goal. ECOVER was in 2nd place and catching the leader Bernard Stamm fast.
'To win the Velux 5 Oceans has been my focus for the past year, but successfully rescuing Alex has put everything into perspective. I would not trade that success for anything else!
'We always set out to win and finish every race we compete in and we have a record of success second to none in doing so. Sadly, we will not finish the Velux 5 Oceans race but we will instead concentrate our efforts going forwards with our 2007/8 projects. We have many more exciting times ahead and while retiring from the Race is sad for us all, it is also prudent to know just when to call it a day.
'I wish the Velux 5 Oceans Race organisers and all the competitors, a safe and successful event. I will continue to follow their progress daily.'
Mike's senior partner in MGYR and owner of sponsoring company Ecover, Jørgen Philip- Sørensen has encouraged and supported this difficult decision which reflects Mike's comprehensive experience of round the world sailing.
Mick Bremans, Ecover's Managing Director, confirmed: 'We are very happy that Mike and Alex arrived safely in Cape Town. The rescue of Alex Thomson became a challenge in its own right. Mike was already our hero, he has simply reinforced his status.
'Over the past week we have communicated intensively with both the team and Mike on board ECOVER. We realise how hard it must be for Mike to come to the decision to step out of the Velux 5 Oceans. Both Mike and the whole Ecover team are passionate about racing and this has given us a lot of successes over the past six years. However top sport is not about passion alone, it also requires perseverance, teamwork and reason. The team has investigated every possible option over the past week and whilst I am sure that everyone would have done the utmost to get Mike back in the race, chances were high that the competitiveness and safety of Mike and ECOVER would have been compromised. This is unacceptable for us as a team and as a company and therefore we fully support the decision to pull out of the Velux 5 Oceans.
'We thank Mike Golding and the Ecover team for their efforts, the fans for having followed ECOVER's achievements over the past weeks and the race organisers of the Velux 5 Oceans. We wish all the other competitors a safe and competitive race.' www.velux5oceans.com www.mikegolding.com