Mike Golding was due to cross the Equator for the 15th time today - and is having to shave his hands and feet....

Race leader PRB crossed the Equator a few hours ago and in another few hours Ecover will make her return into the Northern Hemisphere for the first time in two months. For Golding this will be his 15th time across the Equator, so he is unlikely to make much ceremony of the occasion. “It doesn’t feel any different. There’s no line here along the ocean. There are no marker buoys. There’s no man standing there with a sign saying ‘Welcome to the Equator!’ The only thing you notice is the water going the other way down the plug hole,” he laughed.

That said, Golding admitted the Equator crossing would be a welcome milestone in the race, another step closer to seeing friends and family. “We’ve been out here a long time racing, we’ve still got a long way to go. I’m pretty eager to get home, but also eager to use the opportunity in front of me. If it isn’t long enough, it isn’t long enough.”

For his swollen hands and feet the finish in Les Sables d’Olonnes can’t come soon enough. With the constant soaking and subsequent painful drying of his extremities, Golding has always suffered on these long-distance races but he has tried to take better care of himself this time. However, his special moisturising cream stocks have finally run out. “I’ve used up all the normal hand cream so I’m using the stuff out of the medical kit. Your hands get very dry. You get a lot of hard skin on your hands and your feet. The tips of my fingers are all swollen and hard. There’s not much you can do about it.”

One option is to take a razor and shave off some of the dead skin to alleviate some of the pain. But shaving your fingers and toes isn’t recommended at home, let alone on a bumpy rollercoaster like an ocean-going Open 60. “You can try shaving it all down, which does help a little, but it’s a little risky. Your hands, your feet and your knees – with all that crawling around that we do – spend so much time wet that when they dry out they get very painful. I should wear gloves for all the rope handling, but I’m not terribly good about wearing them. I tend to want to just get on with it, and then think afterwards I should have worn gloves. But there you go.”