HAMPSHIRE ocean racers Alex Thomson and Mike Golding have escaped the dreaded Doldrums and remain in touch with the Vendée Globe leaders.

Thomson was last night just 63 miles behind French frontrunner Armel Le Cleac’h in sixth position while Golding was in seventh, trailing by 180 miles.

Both skippers made crucial gains crossing the Doldrums, a band of dynamic weather lying above the Equator categorised by sudden squalls and blistering heat.

Gosport sailor Thomson pulled back more than 60 miles through the light wind zone, despite having to carry out running repairs to his rudders along the way.

“The doldrums have left me feeling like I went 12 rounds with Wladimir Klitschko,” Hugo Boss skipper Thomson said.

“The day time was tough physically because of all the sail and course changes.

“It was impossible to sleep without heading in completely the wrong direction.

“The night was much tougher, rain clouds bringing gusts to 40 knots and afterwards virtually no wind.

“Being set for light winds and then getting 40 knots of wind is terrifying as you hardly have the strength to roll the sails away, and if they tear or break during the roll you know you will lose a lot of miles and expend all your energy.”

Warsash’s Golding was equally happy to be out of the Doldrums and heading south towards the southernmost tip of the African continent in more stable winds.

“I think we have made some definitive gains in a very successful Doldrums crossing,” he said.

“Sometimes that’s the way it pans out – you have to grab the opportunities when they come, while sometimes you have to sit and wait to get back into the game.

“It’s good to be closer to the back of the lead group, rather than the second group.”


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