Velux 5 Oceans: Mike Golding closes on Alex Thomson, as both experience squalls

Sunday, 19 November 2006


A race is on today. At last for a contest which has so far been characterised by big splits in an already small fleet, the Velux 5 Oceans solo round the world race has two boats lining up in the same stretch of ocean pushing to the limit.

When Mike Golding gybed down to Alex Thomson's line between Friday and Saturday he may just have wanted to find out what was contributing most to Thomson's speed - the weather or the younger skipper's hard driving – but he effectively threw down the gauntlet. Since then the pair have been on something close to a harum scarum sleigh ride, pushing each other closer to the edge in winds, which have so far reached 42 knots for Ecover.

While both have seemingly backed off a little for the moment, since yesterday morning Mike has reeled in 25 miles of Alex's initial lead of 75 miles. The pace has no doubt contributed to Ecover gaining 35 miles on Bernard's substantial lead.

"We are hooning along." Mike Golding confirmed this morning. "We have been on the edge a lot of the time, making good progress. We have had a couple of lighter spells, but have had a good morning, it has been very breezy with squalls of 42-43 knots which have also been heading us. I think that Alex took the option of changing down, while I was rigged and ready to go but rolled on for another two squalls before I took another reef."

While the temperatures have plummeted on deck now and it is cold and damp with water everywhere, Mike has been dealing with a leak, which had been letting water into the back area of the boat.

"It was not serious, just a good three or four bucketfuls, but the problem is that it jumps everywhere, so I have been working at that with my head pressed against the deck, so I have grooves down my head and a few cuts. That is one of the problems of having less thatch on top than I used to. Hopefully I have cured it."

"But, yes it definitely feels like we have a race on now. You can't read to much into these things, but I pulled a file this morning that had us all arriving together in Fremantle, but yesterday it had us three days behind Bernard, like I say you can't read much into that, I always run Bernard and Alex's routing from where they are using my polars."

"It is certainly good to have closed on Alex. He is very quick. To be honest I was scratching my head why he was so quick, because I have been pushing so hard these past two days, it was even faster than Vendee Globe pace, and he clearly has the bit between his teeth, I was thinking 'for Christ's sake Alex calm down a wee bit'. He seems to have just now."

Regardless of the outcome it will be a fascinating duel, Thomson admits that he is now into relatively new territory for him. He is now further south than he reached in the Vendee Globe and sailing solo in this part of the Southern Ocean for the first time.

Coralie Rassinoux 

Velux 5 Oceans photos


1 Cheminees Poujoulat Bernard Stamm 48° 51.08 S 007° 36.96 E DTF 4679
2 Hugo Boss Alex Thomson 41° 28.20 S 007° 51.32 W DTL 789
3 Ecover Mike Golding 41° 10.24 S 008° 58.44 W DTL 839
4 Spirit of Yukoh Kojiro Shiraishi 40° 35.32 S 010° 33.84 W DTL 918
5 SAGA Insurance Sir Robin Knox-Johnston 10° 31.96 S 029° 55.80 W DTL 2970
6 A Southern Man-AGD Graham Dalton 06° 18.36 S 029° 05.96 W DTL 3163
7 PAKEA Unai Basurko 04° 45.44 S 029° 25.28 W DTL 3253

Last Updated ( Sunday, 19 November 2006 )