Mike Golding feels optimistic as he gains on the Vendée leaders

Among the leading sailors, Mike Golding on Ecover holds a better position as the Vendée Globe fleet tackles some menacing southern seas.

Up front just under 60 miles separates Vincent Riou (PRB) from Jean le Cam (Bonduelle), just off southern Australia. Vincent Riou (PRB) is feeling the squeeze of his 4 pursuers, Mike Golding (Ecover) in 5th place is coming right back to within 337.4 miles of the leader. In the chasing pack, Nick Moloney (Skandia) and Jean Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec) have both made it through hell and back…

There are two depressions lying ahead of the two leading boats, the afore mentioned one due west of them and another south east, to the south of the Tasman Sea; a high pressure system centred over the south east of Australia influencing both lows.

This is all particularly good news for the chasing trio comprising Jourdain/Josse/Golding who are already making double the speed in northerly winds on the leading edge of the depression from the west, the three skippers hoping to make great gains.

As a result Mike Golding was feeling particularly optimistic about his position this morning. “It´s good because there´s more to come, I think. Maybe we can break 300 miles by tomorrow! PRB is certainly going to have a big slow down today and I´m just managing to stay with this weather system. Every time it gets too much and it´s near a reef I just manage to push forward and move out of it again and don´t need to reef. I´m just managing to stay ahead of the system which is great, because if I fall out of it PRB may pick it up eventually. It´s not so much a system really, as a band of pressure which is very wide now and keeps on hitting 30 knots. The longer I stay with it the better the chance of staying with this band until it´s gone. It´s dissipating, which means I could be in a position where it´s clean miles and there´s no payback for it.”

Still managing to hold onto a 59.8 mile lead today, Vincent Riou (PRB) seemed rather at ease with his current option, despite having lost around 40 miles advance since this morning. “We were supposed to sail fast over a ridge but it’s moving slowly so we’ll stay behind it waiting for the next system to kick in. In the meantime I have had a shower on deck as it is 10 to 12 degrees outside. It’s been good to get a bit of a break. I’m sleeping well, eating well and the race is going well. There’s a north-westerly wind on its way in a chasing depression but the situation looks more complicated after Australia as there will be a lot of lows and we’ll have to decide whether to go to the north or south of them.”

In second place, Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle) has the same doubts about the coming weather scenario so he’s been concentrating instead on drying out his clothes and enjoying a bit of sun on deck. “I took off a layer of clothes this morning, I was a bit tired. I’m not surprised that Vincent has lost a bit of ground as he sailed straight into a calm zone. I don’t think he’s going to gain any miles on us now. He didn’t gybe and I did. I’ll be in the north in the next 4 days but it’s too soon to go there now and there’s some difficult weather ahead in around 6 days’ time.” As a result of this gybe, Riou seems to be leaving his pole position wide open, and is currently a massive 190 miles northeast of Le Cam as they sail towards the next Southern Ocean gateway to the south-west of Tasmania. Le Cam looks set to be the first of the duo to pick up winds filling in from a west bound depression, a fact that doesn’t ruffle Riou in the slightest.

Mike Golding (Ecover): “Now that the leaders are 100 miles apart it will be harder for both of them now because they don’t have each other as a benchmark.”

Golding looks ahead: “We’ll probably have a bit of a wild night. Our route is taking us quite close to New Zealand, which is a nice safe route. The routing is very strange because we´re not working towards the next waypoint. It´s going to be an interesting period ahead with quite a light patch coming up. Right now, it does look very wide open for any of us in the front five.”