Grand prix victory at long last for Mike Golding as he wins the Transat and knocks over 2 days off the record

Seven years of unstinting hard work culminated gloriously for Mike Golding last night as he arrived ecstatically in Boston to win the single-handed Transat race. Beaming with pleasure and relief, he sprayed his boat, Ecover, her shore team and supporters in champagne, celebrating his first major victory ever in the Open 60 class after long years of podium places, near-misses and dogged, determined hard work. Not since he won the BT Global Challenge in 1996/7 has Golding been victorious in a major race.

Golding’s win is both a personal and a historical triumph. Besides being his best ever grand prix result, his race makes Transat/OSTAR history, knocking an absolutely amazing 2 days and 43 minutes off the course record, set four years ago by Ellen MacArthur. His time for the 2,700 mile course was 12 days, 15 hours, 18 minutes, 8 seconds.

He beat by several hours Swiss skipper Dominique Wavre, who also sailed a blinder, and his best ever race in his Open 60 Temenos. For the record he, too, broke the 2004 record by a huge margin. Wavre had started the race as something of an outsider, racing a six-year-old boat in which he had never before had even a sniff of a podium place. He said he was especially thrilled because this time the money from the sponsors had come though late and he and his meagre shore team had been hard at work prepping the boat until the day before the start.

At dawn this morning, the new boy arrived. Mike ‘Moose’ Sanderson, arrived in Pindar (also inside the 2004 record time), delighted with his 3rd in class on his first ever solo race, but having learned a few things about single-handed racing in general and Open 60s in particular. “I pushed too hard towards that middle phase. I saw Mike [Golding] had slowed down dramatically and I assumed he had a problem so I kept going. Within a very sport space of time I came very unstuck and I snapped the [starboard] daggerboard and lost the [wind instrument] wands off the mast so every watch I was either overpressed or under it.”

Sanderson harried Golding right up until the point where he broke his daggerboard. He seems unphased by such a hard race and says he’s enjoyed a very different sort of sailing after the Louis Vuitton Cup final in Oracle last year, sailing in the world match racing championships and setting a new west-east transatlantic record as skipper of Mari-Cha IV. On this race, he says: “I was really pleased to hang with Mike upwind and be up with Bernard Stamm downwind. The only things which let me down were things where I pushed too hard.”