In the Vendee Globe, with the first three boats now around Cape Horn and into the South Atlantic, Mike Golding is anticipating his release into the Atlantic Ocean at Cape Horn for the final third of the race.
Golding is on resolute form. Though he is enjoying the competition in the Pacific, building miles again on Dominique Wavre behind him to ensure he is around 100 miles ahead of the seventh placed Swiss soloist this morning. He is far from content with his sixth position, given his ambitions going into the race, but he is clearly enjoying the challenge and has plenty of race track left to make significant gains. Such are the nature of the South Atlantic’s weather patterns that there can be big gains and losses before the return passage of the Equator. If the Saint Helena high is fully extended it can effectively block the route north – as it already looks complex for the leaders.
Golding has about five days to go to Cape Horn and the weather is looking like he and his immediate rivals will get a good push there with a couple of low pressure systems. While he has caught a little on Jean Le Cam who is still 420 miles ahead, Golding now finds himself leading a middle order group of four boats now within 300 miles of each other. And this likely to compact even more according to recent weather modelling studies.
On today's Vendee Globe live, Golding said:
'I am a bit slowed at the moment but otherwise I have been moving well. It was a pretty rough night with big waves and 38-40kts of wind, big gusts. I was at the top end of the A7 and on Solent for a while. The waves were throwing the boat around a lot. I agree there will be come compression with this group, but really at the moment I am sailing my own race and just focusing on getting to the next gate. Cape Horn, one way or another, is usually a bit of a slowdown. But once we are all heading north it can be close between us.
When I did look at the routing through to Cape Horn it did look to be through a slack period, arriving from the north, close to the coast. The looked to be the possibility of a shut down after the Le Maire Straits (the opening between Tierra del Fuego and Staten Island) but that was when I last looked at it. Overall we are not getting an easy run of it, not like Alex Thomson seems to be getting now.'
Speaking of the news that his 2004-2005 record passage for Cape Leeuwin to Cape Horn has not been surpassed by Francois Gabart:
Though Gabart bettered by four days, eight hours and 50 minutes the elapsed passage time record from Les Sables d’Olonne to Cape Horn, lowering the mark to 52 days, six hours, 18 minutes, Mike Golding’s 2004 record from Cape Leeuwin to Cape Horn set in 2004-2005 remains intact. Gabart’s time from Cape to Cape was 17 days 18 hours 35 minutes, compared with Golding’s 16 days, six hours, 26 minutes in 2004-2005.
'That is extraordinary. It must have been a real glamour run. My abiding memory is that things just lined up one after another. It was one weather system to another, much like Francois has just had, making high average all the time. And I never had anything on the bowsprit. It was always fore and aft sails, that is to say we were reaching and pointing directly at the mark.'
Maybe that will happen for you next time?
'Not a chance. I have had my glamour run in the south and treasure the memories.'