Stricken Velux competitor rescued from liferaft in early hours of morning

Stricken yachtsman Alex Thomson is now safely aboard the boat of Mike Golding, a fellow competitor in the single-handed Velux 5 Oceans Race.

On hearing that Thomson had capsized and was suffering irreparable keel damage, Golding sailed 80 miles back upwind to rescue him. He arrived on scene, 1,000 miles south-east of the Cape of Good Hope, late last night. They decided to wait until daylight, and in an rescue operation that took an hour and a half, Thomson took to the liferaft and drifted free of his yacht Hugo Boss so Golding could manoeuvre ECOVER close enough to rescue him.

‘It was very scary, a very tricky pick-up,’ said Golding, who suffered engine problems at the crucial moment. ‘In the end we did get him with the engine. It took four attempts and I am just delighted to have him on board.’

Thomson, of Gosport, had been closing in on Golding, of Southampton, in the leg from Bilbao, Spain, when the accident happened. His yacht Hugo Boss has now been left to sink while the pair make their way to the start of the next leg in Fremantle, Western Australia. ‘I can’t believe it – if there was any way I could continue I would, but I have no option,’ said Thomson. ‘To have such a severe problem with my keel, something which I have no control over, is absolutely devastating.’