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Vendee Globe Golding in good shape

by Susan Preston Davis on 9 Feb 2001
In the Vendee Globe Race Mike Golding, sailing Team Group 4, has extended
his lead on fellow Brit, Josh Hall, and is now 279 miles ahead of Hall,
with about 3,400 miles to go to the finish line at Les Sables D'Olonnes,

Golding was in good spirits when he contacted his shore team today:
' We are just clearing the corner of South America and pushing almost
directly North towards the Equator and the Doldrums. The weather is slowly
moderating and the sea flattening out and at the moment we have trade winds
and cloud, which is good news. Yesterday I got a bit of a shock - a couple
of squalls and the sky looking very similar to the ITCZ tropical conversion
zone - very Doldrumy - quite amazing as I was at 7 South.

'Last night the weather settled back to typical trade wind type conditions,
clear sky and nice fluffy clouds, but giving me wind shifts every five
minutes. The past few days since repairing the rig, I have been dealing
with a regular wind shift cycle - during the day I get headed and pushed in
towards the shore, and every night I get lifted and able to sail the
This means lots of small sail changes, but that has been the thing which
has given me the gain over Josh. He got caught and missed the cycle of
shifts and as a result it has pinned him to the coast.

'Today I have been working on the autopilot rams and I think I have found
what has been causing the problem with both pilots. All it seems to be is
a build up of grease and dust on the clutch plates, which has been allowing
them to slip. I have put a spacer behind the clutch to give it a little
push and to hold it together. I tested a previously defective ram and ran
it for 2 hours - a good sign. If that is all the problem is then it means
that I just have to strip down the outers, clean off the clutch plates with
acetone and insert spacers as I have done with this ram and I should have
all my rams and pilot systems back, which is terrific!

'Fuel is my big problem. I am trying to minimise everything to conserve
fuel. I can use the Mini M a little as it is quite economical - a modest
amount is no problem. I made two calls on the Mobiq yesterday and used a
grand total of 20 amps for the day, which is very little fuel, and that was
achieved principally by using the solar power. The solar panels are really
coming into their own now because the sun is directly overhead and I am
getting much more sun and, as I move North, things will get slightly better
as all my panels are at the back of the boat and more and more of them will
be exposed. As I have been coming from the South the sun has been ahead of
me and the sails have been blanketing the panels and I have been losing out
on power, but that should get better from now on.

' I saw my first Atlantic ship yesterday - the first one since Cape Horn,
and a little bit of wild life, including lots of Gannets. I had a bit of a
battle with one of them last night as it insisted on sitting on top of the
windex. As I have got no masthead wind instruments the windex is vital to
me at night and the Gannet was intent on landing on it. I grabbed the helm
and gave it some hefty tugs and pushes and managed to throw the Gannet off.
He got his own back though, as for the rest of the night he used the deck
for target practise for his little 'signatures'. This morning I found a
really grubby boat and had to be careful where I trod!'.

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