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Vendee Globe Golding's 4th best time

by Philippe Jeantot on 1 Mar 2001
British skipper, Mike Golding (Team Group 4), crossed the finish line in Les Sables d'Olonne of the 4th Vendée Globe at 0833hrs French time, sailing with full mainsail and staysail under a clear morning sunshine. His race time is officially 110 days 16 hours and 22 minutes, taking into account the 8 day and 4 hour delay after his unfortunate dismasting just hours into the race.

However, counting from the second start, he has completed his solo circumnavigation in 102 days and 12 hours 22 minutes, thus beating Marc Thiercelin's time by 7 hours and 15 minutes. Mike Golding has recorded therefore the fourth fastest solo circumnavigation. Moreover, he is the first sailor to have completed a round the world voyage, both ways, single-handedly, in a monhull.

Mike's first impressions, after receiving a fantastic welcome by the people of Les Sables d'Olonne lining the dockside in their hundreds clapping and shouting, showed that despite all the setbacks, finishing was one of the best moments of the race. 'What a reception! Even a week ago I wasn't sure I'd get into Les Sables d'Olonne. When the genoa failed a second time it just seemed like too much. I had no food, cigarettes, power problems... The highlight of the race was when the rig fell down and I came back in, the amount of support from people who had nothing to do with the team, who got behind us, incredible! And this reception, it's incredible, from people I don't even know, it's enviable in this sport how public sailing is in France.'

On the pontoon, Golding described one of his most terrifying moments in this Vendée Globe, when he had to fix his genoa furler fitting: 'I had to go up the rig once in the Southern Ocean, in a quiet spot, very small, at Marion Island. The boat was sailing at 4 knots towards the big Southern Ocean swell, it was getting dark and I had trouble working up there. As the boat moved into the swell it started pounding and I was thrown off the mast. I was unable to catch the mast again, I must have been 15 - 20 foot away, when I came careering smack into it. I got big bruises all over my arms and legs. Afterwards I was shaking so much I couldn't do the repair change and we were moving deeper into the swell and I thought here we go..! It was terrifying. I lost a lot of confidence after that to climb the rig, even in the calms.'

Golding went on to the podium for an even louder reception of supporters gathered to celebrate his arrival and managed to say a few words in French to show the public his real appreciation. Ellen MacArthur (Kingfisher) also made sure she was there to greet Mike out on the water and show solid support for her friend and fellow skipper, who has suffered considerably during this, the toughest of yacht races. 'The worst thing I've had to contend with is myself. It's been the hardest struggle for me. I made the best job of it and if you can walk away and know you've done all you could then it's fine.'

In the press conference, when asked to sum up the Vendée Globe, Golding made the comment: 'It was a voyage within oneself, which is what makes the Vendée Globe so unique.' Could he ever imagine doing the race again? 'The answer at the moment is no! But clearly time is a great healer and you remember the good times and forget the bad ones. My only regret was not to be able to be up with the front of the fleet. It's not a complaint, it's just to say that I wasn't where I would have liked to have been to use the things that I've learned to do the best.'

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