Velux 5 Oceans. Golding and Ecover in hot pursuit

Sunday, 19 November 2006

Lining up on Alex Thomson's trail Mike Golding has Ecover fully powered up in pursuit after making a couple of gybes during last night.

Now lying in third place on Leg 1 of the Velux 5 Oceans round the world race, Golding is calculated to have relinquished second during yesterday evening. Mike chose to gybe last night to close the 65 or so miles of lateral leverage that Thomson had, simply so that he could have a clearer idea of their relative speeds and to try to discover why Alex has held a disproportionate speed advantage over the past few skeds.

"I stuck a gybe in and got some sleep. I got my head down because I can't stand being on the unfavoured gybe, so I slept through it and now I have gybed again and I am basically on Alex's line now. So that was about three and a half hours at the speeds we are doing now. The funny thing is that I was going to go thirty, forty miles further but it started to get light and so I gybed back straight away and half an hour later I was back in it."

Mike's discovery was that Alex had found a beneficial fast lane of longer, more settled waves.

"The difference was that I could then sustain surfing at 20 plus knots which is obviously what he had been doing.  My position is still s**t compared to the other day, I think my position is OK because now I am on the same line. I just wanted to get a gauge on how quick Alex is sailing and how hard he is pushing. I couldn't get that from where I was, because I was pushing like crazy and was just not making any inroads so I was thinking I had to get down to his line to see why he was going so quick. It is not so much wind, just a better sea. It is a longer sea, you get on the surfs and stay on them.”

"Whereas where I was it was quite a short sea and you were doing these blasts of 21-2knots but they were over in seconds. Whereas here it is long and sustained. You never quite know what it is because the weather maps look the same, but it is very different. Yes, he had some more wind but not enough to justify the speed difference. But I just wanted to be on the same bit of water and wait for a couple of shifts to go by to see how we are doing."

Yesterday afternoon Mike reported consistent speeds of between 16 and 20 knots, but there is lots of wind ahead.

"It's a bit stop-start just now because it is gusty and we are sailing with full main and Code Eco. So when we are at the top end we kind of career around a bit. Part of the problem with these boats is that you don't have much vang control, so you can only wind vang off and if you put too much on then you break things. I have a level that I am happy with a don't go beyond it. I think I know what the boat can live with."

"It is looking like it will be very fast within the next couple of days, like we will get 40 knots. It is going to be breezy all the way to the Kerguelen Islands."

"That is OK but the truth is that with the breeze at the top end we are all going to go at the same speed. I prefer it to be a little more settled. If it is just balls to the wall sailing I think it is going to suit Alex maybe, but let's see. I feel that we must be getting close to his pace now. If he is pushing as hard as I think he is pushing, then it could be too hard to maintain and it could be a case of sitting back and waiting for him to break something, because if you are pushing that hard it is not a question of 'if' it is 'when', and I don't think that it is completely a cliché that Alex doesn't know how to ease off, but, hey, let's see."

With the next waypoint some 700 miles or about two days ahead, Ecover was reckoned to be 75 miles behind Alex this morning and 68 miles ahead of Koji Shiraishi. Bernard Stamm leads with a margin of 874 miles on Mike.

Coralie Rassinoux

Last Updated ( Sunday, 19 November 2006 )