Thursday, 18 December 2003
click to enlarge
That flares picture, a happy and relieved Mike Golding, the second smoking session he had since crossing the line !

That flares picture, a happy and relieved Mike Golding, the second smoking session he had since crossing the line !

ECOVER, crossing the finish line at 05:24:10 GMT this morning travelling at 12 knots. It took Golding 16 days, 14 hours, 24 minutes and 10 seconds to complete the single-handed 4,100-nautical mile transatlantic race from Salvador, Brazil to La Rochelle, France. ECOVER lead the race for a total of 6 days and stayed in podium positions for 14 out of 16 days of racing.

Mike Golding Yacht Racing is absolutely delighted with the result, especially having secured third place in the recent Transat Jacques Vabre.* (TJV - Double-handed race from Le Havre, France – Salvador, Brazil.) Before the TJV, ECOVER, the team’s new Open 60, had travelled less than 2,000 miles, but has now clocked up 10,400 miles and achieved 1 race win and a third. Golding has fought hard for this win. On day 3 ECOVER was sucked towards the Brazilian coastline and got a fishing pot caught round the boat’s keel; in thunderous conditions on day 11 ECOVER hit an unidentified floating object, causing minor damage to the hull; day 13 brought the loss of his Code 5 sail and a Code 0 halyard failure. With these hindrances and the unusual weather pattern, ECOVER dropped back to 185 miles behind the lead, which Golding reduced to 26 miles only two days later.

Golding described his feelings, “I feel very, very happy. I’m happy with how the boat performed and obviously happy with the result. I think it is very rewarding after what has been a tough year and a half - the process of finding some of the money and all the work done to put the new ECOVER in place. It feels really good for our own team, the sponsors, the builders, the designers and in the context of where we are going with the boat it is really encouraging. I’d like to think that this is the beginning of a winning habit.”

The main objective of the Open 60 teams was originally to qualify for next year’s single-handed, non-stop, round-the-world Vendee Globe, but once the race started, thoughts of qualification disappeared and the 10 skippers concentrated on the race in hand – and what a race. Positions have changed daily, with the pack splitting into 2 on their approach to the Doldrums. Virbac and AT Racing took a north-westerly route, with the other top runners, including ECOVER, on an easterly route. Both routes brought their rewards and pain, as the rankings turned upside down on several occasions. This race has been a fantastic display of endurance, precision strategies and skill.

Both the Transat Jacques Vabre and now the Defi Atlantique have seen the two British skippers, Mike Golding and Alex Thomson, both on the podium, in both transatlantic races. Golding discussed their choice of route; “I think when Alex and Jean-Pierre chose to go off in that direction, I was a little perplexed at that, because personally I thought it was an excellent opportunity to pitch all our 3 boats against the rest of the fleet. They then chose a seemingly unconventional route, but looking at race as a whole, we had ample opportunity to study each other both at close quarters and in the west. As a race it was extraordinary - I’ve never had another one like that. Don’t think I’ve done one where the positions have changed so much, but where the miles have ended up so close. Now I’m really looking forward to going home and enjoying Xmas with my family and then having a successful New Year!”

* The single-handed Defi Atlantique took 8 hours and 4 minutes less than the double-handed Transat Jacques Vabre, but is 200 miles less in distance.

Article courtesy of Mike Golding Yacht Racing

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