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Mike Golding and ECOVER to take part in the iShares Cup 2009

by Mike Golding Yacht Racing 22 Apr 2009 15:37 BST

Mike Golding OBE, Britain's most successful solo offshore sailor, today announced a change of tack for the 2009 sailing season, during which he will be swapping one hull for two, competing with an Extreme 40 catamaran sponsored by his long time major sponsor Ecover

Whilst the world is more used to seeing Mike Golding racing offshore, often alone with his IMOCA 60 yacht, this year he will be joined by a team of professional sailors to participate in the iShares Cup on an Ecover-sponsored Extreme 40 catamaran. The iShares Cup is about bringing sailing right into city centres with high tech, fast and furious Extreme 40 catamarans racing on tight racecourses close to the shore, enabling, where possible, spectator viewing from the shore. Each competing yacht is crewed by four pro sailors whilst one space onboard is reserved for a fifth man, normally a sponsor representative, client or journalist. Mike and his sailing team will compete against some of the world's greatest sailors from a variety of disciplines within the sailing world. America's Cup specialists, Olympians and World Record holders make up the most exciting and unusual sailor lineup of 2009.

Ecover, the world's leading manufacturer of ecological cleaning and washing products has sponsored Mike and the IMOCA 60 campaign for more than 8 years. In 2009 however Ecover will not renew this IMOCA 60 sponsorship contract but instead will focus their sailing sponsorship on the Extreme 40 competing in the iShares Cup.

"It has been a great partnership over the past 8 years and I am very pleased to be sailing once again under the banner of Ecover, this time in an Extreme 40. With the IMOCA calendar being very light this year, it was a good opportunity to step into a new arena and provide Ecover with a great sailing platform for them to promote their brand across Europe."

"I am however still fully committed to compete in IMOCA circuit events and aim to find sponsors to take the Open 60 forwards towards the Vendée Globe in 2012. To me this remains unfinished business and we have already begun talking to potential new sponsors for our IMOCA 60 yacht," explained Golding.

For his first season competing in the iShares Cup Mike has put together an experienced team. On the mainsheet will be Fraser Brown (NZL), one of the most experienced Extreme 40 sailors on the circuit having raced in the class from the outset. In 2008 he raced with double Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson, and the team won the first event in Lugano, Switzerland. Trimming will be Bruno Dubois (BEL) who is a familiar face to Ecover and Mike Golding, the pair have sailed together on many races on the IMOCA Open 60 circuit. Bruno is the Managing Director of North Sails in France, has competed in the Whitbread Round the World Race, been crowned World Champion in the Corel 45 class and held a multihull speed record in his career. Bruno was also part of the crew on Kingfisher 2 for the Jules Verne attempt in 2002 and was the sail coordinator for Areva Challenge in the last edition of the America's Cup. The bowman will be announced shortly.

"The partnership with Mike Golding Yacht Racing over the last eight years has delivered consistent results and it has been a strong business and marketing investment for Ecover. Success on the water through the IMOCA campaigns has related to equal success off the water. However after 8 years supporting the IMOCA Open 60 we decided to look at what other properties in the sport of sailing were available to further develop the Ecover brand. The iShares Cup works really well for us in terms of exposure , accessibility and venues throughout Europe.

Everyone at Ecover continues to be very proud of Mike's achievements and we are looking forward to exciting season ahead with the Extreme 40." Mick Bremans, Managing Director, Ecover.

On why he has been drawn to the Extreme 40 class, Golding explained: "I have been looking at the Extreme 40 circuit for some time now and have been impressed to see how the class has grown to having such a strong and competitive fleet. I accept that the Extreme 40 will be a totally new challenge for me, but I have a really great team and it may surprise a few people that I actually enjoy sailing with crew more than alone. I'm looking forward to sailing once again alongside Bruno and I know Fraser will bring a wealth of Extreme 40 experience to the team. Frankly I just can't wait to get cracking."

A total of 10 teams have signed up for the six-stop European iShares Cup circuit which begins in Venice, Italy, on May 1 5th. The level of competition is high, with many faces returning from last year including legendary French multihull sailors Frank Cammas, Loick Peyron and double Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson.

Mike has achieved 13 podium positions from 20 IMOCA races, including winning the Transat 2004, Le Defi Atlantique and securing third place in the Vendée Globe, even though he finished the race without a keel in 2004. Mike was FICO world champion 2005/6 and IMOCA world champion for two successive years 2004/5 and 2005/6; the first and only British sailor to ever hold this coveted title. He was also the first person to race single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions and he is one of just two British sailors to ever have stood on the podium in the Vendée Globe.

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