Mike Golding arrives for Vendee Globe race

Mike Golding - Photo: Andi Robertson
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Mike Golding and his team had a short wait for the tide to rise enough to allow them to dock in to the port of Les Sables D'Olonne yesterday but the solo British skipper was back, enjoying the warm welcome extended to all by the Vendee Globe race's famous host town.

Golding and ECOVER 3 are among the first half dozen skippers and boats to arrive in Les Sables d'Olonne, ready for the race village to open this weekend and in preparation for the scrutineering of the boats, which starts next week. The majority of the 30-boat fleet are either in nearby ports - such as the large Open 60 enclave in L'Orient - or are presently en route.

'We had a pretty good trip down here, nothing major in terms of weather but it was a good chance to load up the boat and work it a bit, but it was simply a good, steady sail.' Golding reported at breakfast in Les Sables d'Olonne this morning, 'We did some manoeuvres and checked a few things and I am generally happy.'

'Of course there is still a jobs list, there always is, but there is nothing too dramatic and at this stage it is important to just have it under control and not make it grow for the sake of it. There are things that are annoying but they are not important in terms of making the boat go fast.'

'It is good to be back in Les Sables d'Olonne. We were back in one of our old haunts last night, a favourite restaurant-bar, and they remembered us and we got a lovely welcome. And Les Sables has changed so very little, it is just exactly as I remember it.'

'We'll go out and do some sailing next week after the scrutineering, just to lay down a few things we have not quite finished. The scrutineering should be fairly straightforward. As a process it is just a case of working against a checklist, which is primarily about safety. The boats have all been measured to achieve their IMOCA Open 60 certificates, so we are all compliant. It should take about half a day or a day.'

'We have a few small jobs. The alternator fan belt shredded and so we have to get to the bottom of why that happened, because it took all the other fan belts with it.'

'I'm looking forward to the other boats getting in. I know that Pindar is on its way, Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) is out there doing a bit of sailing rather than a straight delivery, I think. I am not a fan of this because there is always that it will make the jobs list longer, and create more worries.'

'Overall, I am happy. We are on top of what we need to do. The rig looks great, we have lavished more care and attention there than ever before, and I am sure we are the best we have ever been there, banishing any worries. I am pretty confident now.'