British sailor Alex Thomson drifting 1,000 miles south of Cape Town

British yachtsman Mike Golding has turned back in the Velux 5 Oceans race to save fellow competitor Alex Thomson, who’s drifting with a damaged keel 1,000 miles south of Cape Town.

Thomson, also a UK entrant of the 30,000-mile singlehanded race, was forced to pull out of the leg from Bilbao, Spain to Fremantle, Australia when the keel of his Open 60 Hugo Boss suffered severe structural failure this morning.

Golding has now turned his boat ECOVER around and is battling upwind in 30-knots to return to Thomson. ‘It cannot be very nice for him being on a broken boat like that in the middle of the Southern Ocean and all I want to do is get him off it,’ he said. ‘Right now he is ok, and hopefully will be ok. The most difficult bit will be the actual pick up. I think he will take to the liferaft and I am going to sail up to the liferaft.’

Japanese competitor Koji Shiraishi has also diverted to Alex Thomson’s aid. Both boats are expected to arrive within the next 24 hours.