British Vendee Globe Mike Golding received a rapturous reception as he returned to Southampton yesterday

Mike Golding received a rapturous reception in Southampton yesterday at the Royal Southampton Yacht Club, Ocean Village, Southampton. Hundreds of people lined the quayside to welcome the local hero home after his phenomenal achievement of securing a podium position in the Vendee Globe 2004, non stop, solo without assistance yacht race.

This was the first chance that the British public had to greet Golding and his racing yacht, the Open 60 Ecover, since he left Southampton in October 2004

Golding finished 3rd in the Vendee Globe on February 4 and completed his lap of the planet in 88 days 15 hours and 15 minutes – the fastest ever time in the Vendee Globe for a British sailor.

Ecover arrived in Southampton without her three ton keel that snapped off just 50 miles from the finish of the 2,4000 mile race and nearly forced Golding to retire. Without a keel Ecover lost all stability and Golding loaded six tonnes of water to his ballast tanks to keep the boat upright.

The Vendee Globe started on November 7 when 20 solo sailors left the French port of Les Sables D’Olonne in Western France. After a month of racing Golding was nearly 900 miles behind the leader as he raced in the Southern Ocean but by day 63 he had closed to just one mile off the leader.

On day 66 Golding took the lead whilst racing in the South Atlantic. Hours after taking the lead the main halyard snapped and Golding was forced to climb the mast to repair it. The main halyard snapped a total of three times in the final weeks of the race but Golding continued to remain in contention for the lead as he headed towards the finish.

In the final days of the race it was a three way battle for the leading trio. Vincent Riou won the race, finishing just over six hours hours ahead of Jean Le Cam. As the spectators were arriving in Les Sables D’Olonnne to welcome Golding at the finish the British sailor advised that his keel had snapped and that his priority had changed from finishing the race to keeping Ecover upright and avoiding capsizing and losing the boat Golding succeeded and 24 hours after the keel had snapped off Ecover arrived in the French port of Les Sables D’Olonnne to claim third place in the Vendee Globe.

Golding is one of Britain’s most successful ocean racing skippers. He is the only British person ever to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions. Golding held the single-handed, non-stop, eastabout round the world record for seven years. His record of 161 days was achieved in 1993-94 and broke Sir Chay Blyth’s record by 125 days. He is one of the world’s leading sailors and has now sailed around the world six times – 4 times solo. In 1997 he won the fully crewed BT Global Challenge Round the World race and finished seventh in the 2001 Vendee Globe despite being forced to restart the race a week behind the fleet after his mast broke on the first evening. In other major International ocean racing events that he has entered he has rarely been off the podium.