Summary of Mike Golding and Ecover’s Vendee

Tuesday, 01 March 2005
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Ecover in `delivery mode` on the way to the start of the Transat 2004

Ecover in `delivery mode` on the way to the start of the Transat 2004

Image © John Nash
click to enlarge

Image © John Nash
click to enlarge

click to enlarge
Ecover jumps the wave - high speed sailing under spinaker.

Ecover jumps the wave - high speed sailing under spinaker.

Image © John Nash
Despite breaking his main halyard twice, his three ascents of the rig and sailing the last 50 miles of the race to windward without a keel. Golding and Ecover completed the course from the tip of Africa due south of the Cape of Good Hope, in an amazing 1day 19hrs 29mins faster than the winning boat PRB. This is how they did it. Official race statistics Mike Golding’s finishing time: 87d 17hrs 20m Previous race winner 2000/2001: Michelle Desjoyeaux 93d 03hrs 57m Mike Golding holds the third fastest overall and fastest British record for a solo navigation in a monohull. Mike Golding/Ecover continue on into the 2005 season with a convincing lead in both the IMOCA and FICO world championships This narrative includes a compilation of quotes and statistics at the end of the document. Thanks to everyone in the media centre, all the writers behind the Vendee Globe race organisation and especially Kate Jennings for her writing and translations during the race. This narrative is almost entirely cut and pasted from their official release ‘Mike Golding – the race in detail’ posted on February 4th 2005. By winning the Transat Race in June 2004 Mike gave a foretaste of what he and the boat could achieve together. This and his previous performances with Ecover in many of the media and fellow sailor’s eyes brought him to the Les Sables D’Olonnes start as the pre-race favourite, a position that he clearly relished. A cautious start and 16th across the start line, Ecover finished the coastal leg in fifth place, moving up to third by Gibraltar and then manoeuvring out to be the most westerly boat in the fleet. Just north of the Cape Verdes this tactic didn’t pay off and in his own words it seemed like he’d “made a mistake without knowing why”. Falling off the back of the leaders to 180 miles, stuck in his own private calm patch and worrying about the distance he lamented “ I’m a little disappointed by the little I have gained from my position off to the west, but I’m keeping up and I know that I have one of the best boats in the fleet at my disposal”. By the doldrums Mike had pulled back 80 miles and on the 18th November as he crossed the equator he overtook his fellow countryman Alex Thompson. In the south east trades now, Golding used the well known windward ability of his steed to cross from being the most westerly boat in the fleet to be to the windward side of the leaders, just behind Sebastien Josse’s VMI. As they approached the St Helena High, the door was closing on the corridor to the stronger westerlies in the south. The boats further north, including Golding would be the first to loose the wind while the opportunity to nudge into the westerly flow and make a jump on the others was a real possibility for the front-runners PRB and Bonduelle. A fifty-mile gap had become a hundred mile gap and very soon Ecover was 270 miles off the lead and slowing further. On the 30th November she passed to the North of Tristan de Cunha, 600 miles astern of race leader PRB, but it would get worse before it got better. Mike picked up the first of his westerlies and on the 1st of December Ecover clocked up a 410 mile day and in what was described as difficult seas attained a speed of 31 knots, under pilot, while talking to his wife Andrea on the telephone. It was not to last and as any race follower knows, there is seemingly an elastic band attaching the boats and it expands and contracts as the yachts pass through depressions and the transitional zones. On the 5th of December while Ecover wallowed under the influence of a high-pressure ridge, race leader Le Cam was a staggering 811 miles in front. At one point the yellow hull of Bonduelle extended her lead over Ecover to some 870 miles, but the fight back was on. On the 15th December, Mike passed Cape Leeuwin, one of the three great capes and the rocky outcrop that marks the western end of Australia having won back 470 miles on the leader. As he closed on Tasmania, Golding had Sebastien Josse in his sights 250 miles ahead, “I’m back” announced Golding, “we’re now all sailing in the same weather system.” By the time they were south of New Zealand, where Ecover was launched and sailed for the first time 18 months before, she was just 3 miles astern of VMI and Sebastien Josse. 3500 miles from Cape Horn, Golding took third place, but VMI’s race nearly came to an end on the 23rd December when 25 miles astern of Ecover she came to a halt, having sailed directly onto a growler. Still in the ice, but now very much more aware of the dangers, Mike was still absolutely focused on the top slot. “I want to round the Horn 200 miles astern to stay in with a chance of winning”. He stayed south in the ice covering more than 370 miles per day often attaining the fastest daily averages of the fleet. “The (water) temperature has fallen to 0 degrees” Mike said on the morning of the 28th December, as he spotted another iceberg. The next day Ecover was within 30 miles of Vincent Rioux’s second placed PRB, an amazing come back. On Tuesday 4th January Ecover rounded Cape Horn after 57 days and 13 hours of racing achieving the fastest passage from Cape of Good Hope to Cape Horn by 27 hours. The long 6600 miles up the Atlantic, the leg that the designers of Ecover had put so much time and effort into was about to start. A distance of two Transat races still to go, Ecover and her skipper had shown themselves to be more than up to the task downwind and now she was operating in conditions she had proven fast, fighting upwind and on her way home. On the 9th January, PRB and Ecover were only 5.4 miles apart, Golding had taken 250 miles off the leader and was in second place consistently the fastest boat in the fleet in these conditions. The main halyard broke, Golding eventually climbed the mast to run a new halyard after using a reserve main halyard to hoist the sail back up. The punishment was a few bruises and 48 hard won miles. They attacked again and three days later took the lead – the crowd went wild, as they say, it was amazing stuff to watch. Twenty four hours later Mike rang his shore crew “it’s bad news I’m afraid”, the spare halyard had broken. Not at the top this time, but while finishing off a reef, the halyard parted between the winch and the jammer as the luff was tensioned – incroyable ! This time the ‘hit’ was more severe, Rioux made off in the trade winds and had extended his lead to 228 miles two days later and continued to extend. On the 23rd January, Golding reached the North Atlantic having narrowed the gap back to 190 miles astern of PRB and 50 miles behind Bonduelle. Who had passed him earlier as he wallowed without a mainsail in conditions too hazardous to make the climb to the top of the 26m rig. Sailing close –hauled in difficult seas, the three men headed north. As the trio approached the end of the race, the stage is set for a victory to PRB, but Mike is not giving up. Under the influence of a high-pressure system Rioux however covers the fleet by sailing north towards the new breeze and holds his course until he can tack over onto port laying directly into Les Sables. By everyone’s reckoning he’s sailed an almost faultless, steady course and was a deserved winner of the toughest race that pits a relentless ocean against man and machine. Finally and before his keel failure on the last day, with three days to go Mike finally concedes “it looks like third place, however it was a great race, where I really enjoyed myself. We’ll talk about broken halyards some other time”. ……………………………………………………………………………… Highs and lows as well as some nice quotes from Mike about the boat included in stories posted on websites during the event by the MGYR and Vendee media teams. “Golding can hardly wait Sunday, November 28, 2004 - 04:30 PM During his radio link-up today, Mike Golding (Ecover) admitted, “The St. Helena high was the worst point of the race”. He did not think the lead obtained by PRB and Bonduelle was really justified, but was willing to admit, “Maybe I haven’t sailed as well as I should have. As you lose confidence, the worse it gets”. He is putting these problems behind him now and remains determined. “I’m enjoying making progress at last. Further on, I’m looking forward to it. Let’s get on with it! Vendee Globe website ……………………………………………………………………………… By getting sucked in violently between D1 and D5, the infamous D3 will be elbowing its way through, sending the Indian high further north and ending up down in the forties, having caused a massive panic throughout the fleet for a week. It will stay with its big sisters in the Deep South and sneak up behind PRB and Bonduelle. By picking up a westerly air stream, the three losers of the last 48 hours (Ecover VMI and Virbac) will be able to calculate just how much they have lost. It will probably be around 1000 km for Ecover, a distance, which statistically is going to exclude all hope of making a comeback Random weather situations are a part of the game. They are merciless. That’s what the race is. See you on Tuesday Dominic Vittet Vendee Globe Weather Vendee Globe website ……………………………………………………………………………… Date: 30/11/04, 14:48 PM Re: Ecover taking back the miles “The wind is very unstable, though. I can be in 30 knots one moment and then 38 knots the next. The sea is very awkward. Now that I've gybed, the breeze has come forward. I've got a following sea and reaching winds. So I'm making very good progress, sometimes travelling along at 28 knots, but the boat's crashing and banging - very, very wet, and very noisy. The fact that I've been asleep at all is pretty good going. The boat seems to be coping with it well. We had a good sail yesterday, some great speeds." Note, today, Golding hit his highest speed, 31 knots, in the middle of a phone call to his wife Andrea.” MGYR website ……………………………………………………………………………… Date: 02/12/04, 14:49 PM Re: Caught at a mteorological crossroads "The boat's been really good. It's certainly capable. It can carry its sail and it's very stable," he said. It's hard to know how much of his recent recovery on the leaders is down to positioning in the weather system and how much down to raw speed. I think a part of it was I was further out of the weather system and the waves were better organised. There's no question I've been pushing but whether or not I've been doing anything daft - I don't think so. I haven't broken anything, so I haven't overcooked it. I think a lot of it has been pace, just looking at the numbers. Some of it must be straight pace." MGYR website ……………………………………………………………………………… “Night Flash Tuesday, December 7, 2004 - 08:19 PM The best day goes once again to Mike Golding, the fastest boat of the fleet today having covered 377 miles, at an average of 15.7 knots. This has enabled him to make up 136 miles on the head of the race, pretty good going for what is officially the fastest boat of the fleet according to statistics.” Vendee Globe website …………………………………………………………………………… "If we can close with these boys now and be in the same weather system and we are all trucking towards the Horn together, then I think my strategy would be to be quite conservative - to make sure I get to the Horn without breaking. If I can do that I will be in very good shape. I really do feel very confident that if the Atlantic does what it should do I can make up a lot of ground certainly on PRB and probably on Bonduelle. Going on the track from this section of upwind, I have been climbing so much better than these boys. VMI is the worst, PRB is a little slower, Bonduelle is next and I am a chunk above Bonduelle." Vendee Globe website ……………………………………………………………………………… Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 04:00 PM After 66 days of racing and over 18000 miles (33300 km), English skipper Mike Golding (Ecover) has taken the lead of the Vendée Globe for the first time in his long sailing career at 1500 GMT today 12 January 2004. In so doing he deposes Vincent Riou (PRB) and Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle) who have been reigning since the start on 7 November. Mike has a lead of 23.2 miles, making 5 more knots boat speed than the chasing duo with by far the best 24-hour performance of the fleet (333.5 miles). On Sunday 5 December 2004, while sailing around the southern tip of the African continent, Mike Golding, original favourite in this 5th edition, was 811 miles (nearly 1500 km) from the leader! At Cape Horn, he was over 250 miles from the leader Jean Le Cam, and is now heading the fleet. The recent episode involving the breakage of his mainsail halyard only served to delay the inevitable takeover by 36 hours. “Clearly it’s a good result this morning but we’ll wait and see how it pans out once we’re through the trough” said a chirpy Mike Golding on his trusty Ecover today. “We’re racing on a day to day basis at the moment, watching what’s going on around us. You physically see the conditions, check the barometer...It’s very warm and overcast with grey skies and rain squalls. We’re reaching with the seas behind us and the wind from ahead making things messy. I had some rest overnight but it was boisterous with up to 30 knots of breeze. It was difficult to know how low you could sail and there were a number of sail changes. The boat is really the star of the show – upwind or downwind. It doesn’t seem to have any particular weakness. The boat does everything it is designed to do and more and downwind it is especially surprising.” Vendee Globe website ……………………………………………………………………………… Friday, February 4, 2005 - 04:15 PM In a remarkable feat of seamanship and tenacity British skipper Mike Golding today broke the Vendee Globe in third place, bringing Ecover across the finish line off Les Sables d’Olonne at 03h 17 m 13 seconds GMT this morning, despite losing his keel during yesterday afternoon. It also marked the conclusion of Golding´s sixth circumnavigation of the world under sail. Completing the 23,680 mile course after 88 days of racing Ecover finished only 1 day 4 hours and 27minutes and 18 seconds behind the winner Vincent Riou on PRB. ”Yesterday I was going to come in to Les Sables d´Olonne disappointed with not being the winner, but happy with my race. Now I can´t complain about my race. I´ve had a perfect race. I have a great boat, a great sponsor and a great team. “ ”Everything about this race is exactly what I came back to it for. That is until the keel came off yesterday afternoon, which is a weird thing to say, and now I just feel lucky to finish. Lucky to be third and lucky to still have my boat. The boat has taken care of me. I’m just happy to be here. “ Vendee Globe Website ………………………………………………………………………………

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