Mike Golding has completed his sixth circumnavigation of the World.
The Warsash sailor is currently lying sixth in the Vendée Globe and completed his sixth circumnavigation as he crossed his outward track from his descent of the Atlantic over eight weeks ago.
While the relief of being on the home straight is palpable, Golding is facing one of the biggest challenges of his solo racing career as he attempts to wrestle fifth place from his long time rival, Jean Le Cam.
“There is not much I can do against Jean at the moment in the current conditions and sail configuration. He has the more powerful boat. I keep doing what I can, but it is swings and roundabouts. I can’t really put my finger on what I can do to go faster, I am doing all I can. We are fast reaching now and he is just a little bit quicker.”
The passage of the Doldrums might be decisive. Even a matter of tens of miles apart, the duo can encounter very different wind conditions. In their fatigued states, this will be a stage where it will be necessary for both to manage themselves as best as possible.
While Golding knows the skills and record of his French rival, built up over the same career span as himself, he does not know the condition of his rival’s boat, what sails he has left or Le Cam's physical and mental state. Golding, however, is a tough, doughty fighter and relishes this final challenge.
The Doldrums are not looking too bad. We are both aiming for a little ridge of wind and there seems to be 10-11 kts all the way through according to the models. Once we are through the trades on the other side, it looks fine and so it will be upwind again. I should be at The Equator some time between 6-8pm this evening, 6pm at the current speeds but I will slow, I am sure.
It is blisteringly hot right now, the high 30s, and so I am trying to get my sleep in the early morning when it is cooler. Food is sparse, shall we say, all the good stuff is gone for sure," commented Golding this morning.
"And I can safely say there will be nothing left when I get to Les Sables d’Olonne. In the back of the increasingly sparse larder, I have saved a special bottle, a somewhat battered looking bottle of Mumm Champagne. I intend to enjoy it fully when I cross into the Northern Hemisphere, so it is now 'on ice', cooling outside in the wind, wrapped in a damp cloth."
The latest prediction for arrival back into Les Sables d'Olonne for Golding and Gamesa is around the 90 day mark, anticipated to be 8-10 February 2013.