MIKE Golding has ‘declared war’ on his Vendée Globe arch-rival as the solo round the world race enters the final sprint to the finish.

Veteran racer Golding, 52, has been trading blows with Frenchman Jean Le Cam since the 24,000-mile odyssey started in November last year.

After trading places with Le Cam, himself an experienced solo yachtsman, on numerous occasions during the round the world race, Golding said his focus was now on winning the battle and beating his rival to the Les Sables d’Olonne finish line.

Warsash sailor Golding, last night in sixth place just 20 miles behind Le Cam, described waking from a short sleep in pools of sweat only to find he had been sailing off course for 15 minutes.

“Given my position in relation to Jean I know this was just the opportunity SynerCiel [Le Cam’s yacht] needed to attack my position. “To defend, I must quickly manoeuvre so that if he has tacked, our relative positions in the wind are maintained. “I must, for now, keep this small lateral separation as it is my chance to grab fifth position.

“Jean has called it a war against the weather and of course each other – it seems a fair description.

“In reality it’s ridiculous to compare sailing with war, no one is trying to kill us here, but for life-long competitors even these small tasters of victory are as sweet or as bitter as those gained in more serious conflict.”

Meanwhile, Alex Thomson was closing in on third-placed Jean-Pierre Dick whose campaign suffered a potentially terminal blow on Tuesday when his yacht’s keel fell off.

Last night Thomson had closed the gap to about 130 miles as he reeled in his wounded rival. Dick may yet attempt to finish the race but Thomson will almost certainly catch him and take third place in the race.

As reported in the Daily Echo yesterday, Thomson is on course to become the fastest Briton ever to sail solo round the world.

He needs to break Mike Golding’s record of 88 days set in the 2004 Vendée Globe to secure his place in the history books.

After 75 days at sea, Thomson estimated he would arrive in Les Sables around January 31.

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