by Emily Caroe
In the Vendee Globe, Mike Golding continues to make relatively slow, but steady progress in light to moderate NE’ly winds. Golding and his long time arch-rival, Jean Le Cam, are now on opposite tacks with the British skippering closing down miles steadily on the French sailor who is sailing gently NE, away from Rio which is just 110 miles to his NW.
17 Jan Last Breakfast, Mike Golding onboard Gamesa - 2012 Vendee Globe
The lateral split between the duo is now 500 miles but from his offshore position Golding is gaining leverage on Le Cam all the time and on the 0400hrs UTC ranking, he was just 23 miles behind (in terms of distance to finish). So Golding has made up 60 miles on Le Cam since the same time yesterday. Gamesa was making just over 10kts in a 12-14kts breeze whilst Le Cam is slower and was making just 5kts at times during the night.
Golding largely has his rivals under control. Both Arnaud Boissieres (Akenas Verandas) and Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) are nearly on the same latitude as him, but both will struggle with the same situation as Le Cam, ahead of them all, being upwind with a poor angle on port tack when they try to get north.
Mike should be progressively getting into stronger, more lifted breeze as he climbs north of the high pressure.
Mike sent this email last night:
This morning, in an experiment, I enjoyed scrambled eggs on toast which was both good, and a nice break from my normal cereals. In truth this was not an exploration brought on by my culinary curiosity, but the beginnings of a worrying period in a long race like this, when it seems like everything on board is worn out, or running out. I have only maybe six servings of cereal remaining, not a crisis, but I will need to be creative with what remains, if I am to have any comfort over the final weeks.
We pack the boat with food, fuel and spares for, say, a 90 day race, which is normal. In such a competitive fleet we all push the limits and try to minimise our load weight. However when times are tough we think little of double-portioning a meal, or burning the heater, or running the engine to maintain a better cabin temperature. But now, as we approach the final stages of the race any such previous excesses (and there have been very few) all come back to haunt you – and the paranoia that you won’t/can’t make the finish in Les Sables d'Olonne starts to ring strongly in your thoughts.
If I were starting on a passage home from Rio de Janeiro today, and what I have in terms of food, spares and fuel was presented to me on the dock, I would laugh – because it's just not sufficient. But out here, 400 miles east into the Atlantic, heading north with the majority of my fourth Vendée Globe behind me, I have no option but to make ends meet.
Running out of cereal is one thing, but since our hydrogenerator control box nearly burst into flames as we entered the Southern Ocean going South, fuel has been the primary concern. We chose not to make a huge hogwash about it, others seemed so much worse off then we did at the time, and we still do have fuel which we think will be sufficient. But like the cereal - and pretty much everything else now – it's going to be a close run thing.
Still, if I have to eat marmalade and pickle for the last week of the race then that is what I will do. But no power equals no auto pilot, lights, navigation systems, AIS, active echo, keel etc…. In Biscay - in Feb, really?! That is too much and not very safe or seaman like. But in common with every other Vendée competitor, it is my inbuilt need to complete (a form of madness?), we simply must close this circle and finish so we can once again enjoy the feeling and emotion of that 20 minute passage through the canal into Les Sables d'Olonne.
Perhaps this time the paranoia is even further heightened by the knowledge that this is my last expression of such madness…. and I bloody well mean it this time!
Vendee Globe website
Mike Golding website