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Vendée Globe 2012-2013 - Day 13

by Vendée Globe Media on 22 Nov 2012 22 November 2012

Golding crosses Equator for 22nd time

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a half-hour penalty to complete and he is worried that the gains on the top six that he banked in the Doldrums will be withdrawn in lighter breezes.

"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.

Fleet news

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 9 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.

Update from Mike Golding, Gamesa:

Mike Golding and Gamesa crossed the Equator into the Southern Hemisphere at 0215hrs UTC this morning in seventh place in the Vendée Globe but celebrations were on hold until after daylight after another long, busy and frustrating night.

During the night Golding took the opportunity to take the 30 minutes penalty which was handed down to him after a protest alleging Gamesa had wrongly entered a traffic separation channel.

"I'm not happy about it, but it's done." Golding grimaced.

It's been a very slow and frustrating night, with the wind very headed and consequently I have not made much VMG (velocity made good, or net speed in the direction of the finish). I am back on the Solent headsail, whenever I was on the Genoa I just seemed to be on my ear too much. When it is right it was fine."

In around 12kts of wind this morning, Golding reflected that the leading boats ahead of him were almost certainly in better, stronger breeze:.

"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."

Meantime his appointment with King Neptune is for daylight:

"I'll do something soon, 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....."

In case you missed it in yesterday's press release, Ian 'Mucky' McCabe, Gamesa's Composite Technician speaks very personally about what it is like for th eshore crew, who are permanently on 24 hour call, during a race like the Vendée Globe:

The Highs and Lows of the Vendée Globe from Ashore...

"When you read stories about the Vendée Globe, or any other offshore yacht race, the main focus is of course on the skippers of the yachts. As we know from other sports such as F1 and Olympics, behind every individual is always a team of technicians, engineers, coaches, logisticians etc. The Vendée Globe is no different. When a skipper has technical issues which force their hand to retire from this Everest of yacht racing, they are not the only one who feels the disappointment.

"Whether your responsibility lies in the office or on the boat, it is a huge team effort to get these amazing racing yachts and skippers to the start line of any race...let alone this one. So when you hear of boats retiring with mechanical issues, dismastings or freak accidents, you really feel for the other guys on shore. I have been in their position and know how it feels to get that call to say it's over. It's the call we all hope never comes, but as seen in the race thus far, even the best prepared boats and teams have not been spared the cruelness of this epic adventure.

"It's fair to say that most of the shore crews on these boats have been around this particular block for a while.... I may not spend much time with many of these guys, but after 3 Vendée Globe starts, and many other IMOCA races, we get to know each other pretty well (mainly over a sun downer after work). We know the amount of effort everyone has put in to be there.

"So, when I heard of Sam Davies dismasting, I immediately thought of my good friend Erwan (Sam's Boat Captain), who I have worked with before. I know he would be totally gutted that their rig had come down and would be throwing all he had into making sure both Sam and the boat returned to shore safely. This guy is one of the hardest working preparateurs on the circuit, which makes Sam's and Saveol's retirement even more heart-wrenching.

"As I write this, I know that in different parts of Europe there will be other shore teams pouring over position scheds from the Vendée Globe website, checking on news articles, listening in to radio vacs... as we are every day... talking to our bosses who are out there trying to keep all these spinning plates in the air. It's a real juggling act to push as hard as they dare while trying to manage the boat and more importantly manage themselves.....

"Lets hope all of our emergency work phones stay quiet and the rest of the teams left make a safe return to Les Sables d'Olonne next year."

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