A lucky break for Golding as he leads the British charge in the Transat Jacques Vabre?


No-one could ever accuse Mike Golding of having a path gilded by luck, but could he be about to get a break?

Under leaden skies, he and co-skipper Bruno Dubois began the Transat Jacques Vabre race from Le Havre to Brazil today inch-perfect, getting cleanly over the line in 1st place and away on a downwind forecast that could not be better suited to his largely untested new Ecover 3.

Golding had sailed his new boat only eight times. Delays in finishing Ecover in New Zealand and early teething problems did for a thorough shakedown. Golding is no optimist; bitter experience has drummed that out of him. So reliability is a concern. It is, Golding admits, more a question of whether or not breakages are manageable.

So for him, the forecast is a gift. It sees the Open 60s blazing downwind in increasing breeze, staying on port gybe until the middle of the week at least. There is every chance that they will be down near the Canaries when they get their first taste of upwind sailing.

For once, the TJV shouldn’t suffer a war of attrition in the Channel or Biscay. In fact, a slingshot past Portugal could mean a potentially record-breaking race.

The three other British Open 60 teams had a reasonable start but soon dropped behind as they were outpaced by a new generation of boats. So much more powerful are these that Jonny Malbon and Graham Tourell (Artemis), Dee Caffari and Nigel King (Aviva) and Sam Davies and Jeanne Gregoire (Roxy) can really only hope to aim for a mid-fleet placing at best.

One interesting statistic that illustrates how quickly development has outstripped them is this: Michel Desjoyeaux’s new Foncia has 150% more righting moment than his former Vendée winner PRB, now Sam Davies’s Roxy.

So from a UK perspective, fingers crossed for Mike Golding, who alone has the heels to win.