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Goss. Fossett forced out of The Race

Jan 1, 2003
From Ocean Navigator #112 March/April 2001

From Ocean Navigator #112 March/April 2001

British sailor Pete Goss dropped out of The Race, the no-limits crewed race around the world, after losing his experimental yacht Team Philips to the North Atlantic in December. The 120-foot knife-hulled cat that sported a pair of rotated wing masts across from each other on opposite hulls was abandoned on a crossing from Canada to the U.K. in preparation for the start of The Race in Barcelona.

Pete Goss and his crew were plucked from the $6 million carbon-fiber yacht Dec. 10 by the crew of the containership Hoescht Express while the vessel was 875 miles west of Ireland. When the ship called on Halifax a few days later, Goss described the fierce storm that had battered his yacht and forced him to make the decision to abandon. Sea conditions were among the worst he'd seen in his career, he said, and the vessel sustained serious damage, including loss of the lock-to-lock hydraulic steering system located beneath the cockpit pod, which was taken out by a series of large, boarding waves. With very little steering capability, and with the yacht surfing downwind under bare poles at a rate of 12 to 15 knots, even with a drogue deployed, Goss discussed the predicament via radio with Britain's Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Falmouth, U.K. To head farther away from shipping lanes with an approaching storm, a Team Philips spokesman said, would have been an unnecessary risk. All agreed that issuing a Mayday was the sensible option, according to the team.

Once the containership was alongside Team Philips, the crew jumped into an over-slung cargo net and scrambled up the ship's high freeboard. Goss, as tradition dictates, was the last to leave the stricken vessel.

Team Philips' shore crew attempted to track the vessel, but nine days after it was abandoned, all contact was lost with the drifting yacht. An extensive aerial search also failed to find it, the team disclosed in late December. The loss of the yacht is the latest in a series of problems that plagued the Goss syndicate from the start, including partial destruction of one of the hulls during sea trials off the U.K., none of which dampened the tremendous public enthusiasm for the project - and an endorsement from the Queen herself.

Just a few weeks later Goss was back in the game of high-profile ocean adventuring, however. During the London Boat Show in the first week of January, Goss' promotion company, Goss Center of Challenge and Adventure, and his yacht construction company, Goss Composites, launched Atlantic Spirit, a 33-foot ocean-rowing pod that will attempt to break Atlantic-crossing records this year. While Goss will not be aboard for the row, the three-person team will enjoy the wide spotlight shining on all his efforts as they attempt to row east to west in less than 35 days and from west to east in less than 55 days, the respective records.

The Race kicked off in Barcelona with great fanfare, six extreme multihulls in attendance, including Steve Fossett's cat PlayStation. Fossett withdrew the cat because of damaged sails and a shattered daggerboard shortly after the vessel left the Mediterranean.

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