by Emily Caroe
In the Vendee Globe, now in a slightly more easterly breeze and level with the latitude of Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, Mike Golding is credited presently with fifth place, computed to be just one mile ahead of Jean Le Cam on the 0400hrs UTC poll this morning.
Mike Golding, Gamesa - 2012 Vendee Globe
Le Cam is seventy miles to Golding’s west and very slightly north of him. But the British skipper is still mildly frustrated at the changeable strength of the winds he has.
'We got the lift [the breeze veering more Easterly] last night and so we have been making better progress since then,' reported Golding this morning, making between seven and eight knots.
'But in saying that it has been up and down and shifty. I have just changed up to the Genoa and maybe regretting it a bit, it is almost too much and I felt I was doing OK on the Solent. But then you lose so much in the change, and then to change back, I think I will leave it for four hours and see how we go on it.
'It almost feels like you can be trying too hard in this situation. Sometimes I feel like I need to just forget about where Jean is and sail my own race, to chill out a bit and let the boat do the work. We are going to be together for a while.'
Golding had not heard the news that third placed Jean-Pierre Dick on Virbac-Paprec 3 had lost his keel last night.
'That is really bad news. I feel for Jean-Pierre because he is a lovely guy and really wants to finish this Vendée Globe. He has got so far and really wanted that podium finish.'
Golding sent this update this morning:
22 January 07:00 GMT:
Even at this stage of the race, when our bodies are tired and our supplies low, when everyone seems to agree is the worst South Atlantic ever, the competitive pressure between boats remains undiminished. Jean has called it a war against the weather and of course each other – it seems a fair description…
This afternoon, dosing at the nav station in a sweltering 37 degrees, I wake in a pool of sweat to see that I am off course to the west as the wind has headed for the past 15mins. Given my position in relation to Jean I know this is just the opportunity Synerciel needs to attack my position. To defend, I must quickly manoeuvre so that, if he has tacked, our relative positions in the wind are maintained. I must, for now, keep this small lateral (east) separation as it is my chance to grab fifth position.
Annoyed and cursing myself I leap to begin emptying ballast before going on deck and scanning the horizon for the enemy – has he caught me napping, has he stolen the advantage. This is stupid as he is more than 60 miles away but still I look…
Without further delay I hurl myself into preparing for the manoeuvre, runners, traveller, sheets etc are all made ready then a quick crawl around in the furnace below, physically move the 400kg stack and check the water ballast has emptied from the starboard side. Then the tack itself, keel over, daggerboard up, reset sheets etc – lots of mindless grinding of winches before heading back into the furnace to load new ballast on port… all the while I am checking the VMG , the speed towards my next waypoint. Early signs, unfortunately, are not good. Still, finally, I settle onto Port, but it’s really not the result I was hoping for after all that effort. Looking at the data logging the shift lasted just 20 mins and unfortunately I missed the best of it and tacked just as the shift dissipated.
My emotional brain tells me that Jean will have pounced on the shift and has gained some benefit, I am annoyed at this point so I swear a bit - $%^(+++, RTIOO etc
My more logical brain tells me that he never got the same shift, it was just local.
Whatever, there is now no choice, I must now, quickly, undo all I have done and get back onto Starboard before reflecting on the possible damage in the next poll at 1900z.
I suppose, trying to be positive, I was reactive – which all things considered is pretty good at this stage, and regardless, after the next poll, the slate will be cleaned once more and we can begin afresh: the next 'poll to poll' battle in our Vendee Globe war to Les Sables d'Olonne.
In reality it’s ridiculous to compare sailing with war, no 'one' is trying to kill us here, but for life long competitors - even these small tasters of victory are as sweet or as bitter as those gained in more serious conflict.
Mike will hopefully appearing on Vendée Globe Live at 12:05 GMT today.
Mike Golding website
Vendee Globe website