by Vendee Globe
In the Vendee Globe, Mike Golding (Gamesa) crossed the Equator for the 22nd time as he chased the six leading boats in front of him south to the coast of Brazil. He deferred the traditional celebrations and offerings to Neptune this time because he had a half-hour penalty to complete and he is worried that the gains on the top six that he banked in the Doldrums will be withdrawn in lighter breezes.
Mike Golding, Gamesa
'22 is a quite a lot,' Golding, who is competing in his fourth consecutive Vendée Globe, said. 'I don’t think it’s that important but it shows how lucky I am.'
'I’ll do something soon (for Neptune),' he said. 'I just need a little sleep and then will find one of the bottles of champagne, but to be honest I’d rather a beer.
'I’m afraid that is the way of it just now and it will likely continue. The trade winds here are right down a lot, there is not much holding them. My fear is that the mileage to the leaders grows again over the next 4-5 days that it is going to be like this.'
Golding completed his 30-minute penalty (awarded by the race committee due to a breach of the boundaries in place to prevent collisions in the Finisterre Traffic Separation Scheme) at just before midnight. But Golding, 218 miles behind the leaders, gained ground on Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) and Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) who traded places as they completed their two-hour penalties.
Whatever Golding’s fears, the forecast suggests a procession south for the next four days before the leaders can seek the most advantage from the slingshot south in a low pressure system. They will have to get used to one leg being shorter than the other as they reach down the coast of Brazil in 12-13 knot easterlies.
Armel Le Cléac’h, (Banque Populaire) slightly extended his lead over Francois Gabart (Macif) to 49.3 miles and Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss), in sixth, is still just 28 miles behind Gabart.
Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3), in fifth, completed his 20-minute penalty last night without losing ground.
Javier Sansó (Acciona 100% EcoPowered), continues to work his way back and is bearing down on Bertrand De Broc (Votre nom autour du monde). They are both in the doldrums with Sansó now just nine miles behind. Sansó was still making 12.2 knots in the last hour and could be the biggest winner from the Doldrums. He is just 365 miles behind the leader now, having been 650 miles behind 48 hours ago.
But Sansó along with Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives cœur), who also had a good night, are the only boats of the six penalised who have not yet taken their penalty of two hours. They have until midnight (French time) of Thursday 22nd to complete them.
Vendee Globe website