After many setbacks Mike Golding takes the lead in the Vendee Globe and is travelling twice as fast as the nearest boats

After 66 days of racing and over 18000 miles (33300 km), English skipper Mike Golding (Ecover) has taken the lead of the Vendée Globe for the first time in his long sailing career at 1500 GMT today 12 January 2004. In so doing he deposes Vincent Riou (PRB) and Jean Le Cam (Bonduelle) who have been reigning since the start on 7 November. Mike has a lead of 23.2 miles, making 5 more knots boat speed than the chasing duo with by far the best 24 hour performance of the fleet (333.5 miles).

On Sunday 5 December 2004, while sailing around the southern tip of the African continent Golding was 811 miles behind the leader! At Cape Horn, the deficit was over 250 miles and now he is leading the fleet. Mike makes no secret of his immense desire to win this fantastic race, with his boat in perfect condition just 3 weeks from the finish. The big question on everyone’s lips is whether Mike can become the non-French skipper to win the Vendée Globe.

“Clearly it’s a good result this morning but we’ll wait and see how it pans out once we’re through the trough” said a chirpy Mike Golding today. “We may come to a stop but it doesn’t look like that’s going to be the case. I’ve been fortunate to get back so quickly. I think I’m on the right side of the course but we’ll see what it’s like once we’re into the northerlies. After the Atlantic High going south I had to get into a new rhythm to catch up with the leaders and I’m still in that rhythm now. I’m not terribly surprised at Jean’s loss but knowing him I’m sure he’ll bounce back. I don’t think I’m taking a big chance being out west. Soon I’ll be on a port tack heading away from the coast again on the other side of the system. I’m on a more direct course and it was the only option open to me given the weather. We’re racing on a day to day basis at the moment, watching what’s going on around us. You physically see the conditions, check the barometer…It’s very warm and overcast with grey skies and rain squalls. We’re reaching with the seas behind us and the wind from ahead making things messy. I had some rest overnight but it was boisterous with up to 30 knots of breeze. It was difficult to know how low you could sail and there were a number of sail changes. The boat is really the star of the show – upwind or downwind. It doesn’t seem to have any particular weakness. The boat does everything it is designed to do and more and downwind it is especially surprising.”