With just over 24 days to the start of the Vendee Globe, Mike Golding is back in the very familiar surroundings of Les Sables d’Olonne after arriving last night into the Port Olona marina with his IMOCA Open 60 Gamesa, following a fast and pleasingly uneventful passage from Southampton, UK.
Gamesa Sailing Team
Accompanied by his team of preparateurs, Graham Tourell and Mikey Ferguson, and met by his composite engineer, Ian McCabe, Golding arrived at the famous start port for the 2012-2013 Vendée Globe just in time to catch the last of the tide which allowed them to move directly into the marina.
Golding commented, 'It is really good to be back and it was lovely arriving last night. We were met by a couple of RIBs and there were people on the canal side cheering and people at their windows and balconies welcoming us. It is a very nice reminder of the warmth and passion that the people of Les Sables d’Olonne have for the race and its skippers.'
Gamesa is the fourth IMOCA Open 60, of an expected fleet of 20, to take her place in the marina, the second to arrive from outside the Vendée region after Kito de Pavant’s Groupe Bel.
'We had a really good range of conditions, sailing in full Vendée mode, fully loaded with spares and food and we pressed the boat pretty hard. We were just footing a lot of the time, not hard on the wind, and then had some fast reaching from Ushant doing 23-24knots and everything was fine. We did some good miles at speed with some nice surfing,' recalled Golding.
'It is exciting to be here. After the long build up to eventually be here now feels really good. We all went for a nice meal together, steak frites of course, and reflected how much time we have spent here over the 12 years: it adds up to quite a bit!'
The Gamesa technical team have a moderately comprehensive list of work to get through over the coming days, but all of the tasks are relatively small.
'I have to say I really am happy with the shape the boat is in. I don’t think I have been here before feeling so well prepared. Usually there is something niggling with the boat, you are waiting for some part, or something random you are worrying about, but this time I am happy with where we are at. Thankfully that reflects our time investment this summer in making sure that we reach this point with the boat and the hard work by the shore team. And if that has been at the expense of sailing time on the water then I am fine with that. It has been a bit of a frustrating summer, but to have three weeks to go before the start and be here like this, this is where I have always wanted to be. I can say we are better prepared with the boat than ever before.'
Gamesa Sailing Team
Golding will return home to England this evening, returning to Les Sables d’Olonne at the weekend for the official opening to the public of the Vendée Globe race village. This will be followed by a few days of media interviews and commitments, before the final build up, which will start on 2 November, when Golding will be joined by the full complement of the Gamesa Sailing Team as they count down the final days to the start of the 2012-2013 edition.
Vendee Globe website
Mike Golding website