In Around Alone Britain's Mike Golding takes over second place in the light breeze at the front of the fleet.
8th October Don’t you just hate it when the weatherman’s right? That surely must be the general sentiment today among the top seven boats in the Around Alone race. The meteorologists at fleet weather forecaster Commanders’ Weather said that the aftermath of Tropical Storm Lisa would be ugly, and ugly it is. At the 0940 GMT position update today only Mike Golding-averaging just under 8 knots-was making anything resembling decent boatspeed. The sounds emanating from the decks of the other top boats was the horrible slapping of slatting sails.
At the top of Class I, Marc Thiercelin continued to hold the lead, followed by Golding, Josh Hall, and Isabelle Autissier. On the Distance To Finish scale, only 46 miles separated this tidy quartet. In Class II, J.P. Mouligne held a six-mile edge over Mike Garside. Surprising Brad Van Liew, who is making good on his vow to pester the leaders, was only 16 miles behind Garside. As for Giovanni Soldini, who led the way for the better part of the first week, if there was no such thing as bad news he’d have no news at all. Were he racing his 60-foot FILA in Class II, he’d be in fourth place today. As it stands, the Class I skipper was almost 400 miles behind leader Thiercelin at this morning’s update.
This report from BALANCE BAR skipper Van Liew this morning captured all the glamour of high-stakes offshore yacht racing: “This is one of those days I will not get excited about. There is no wind and a light swell (just enough to get the boat moving around). It is very hot and as I write I must continually wipe my arms so they don’t drip sweat into the keyboard. My desire to succeed keeps me on deck working…and managing the biggest sails I have from getting damaged in the rigging as they slat back and forth. I am sure that it would make no difference in the long run if I just dropped the sails and waited for the first bit of wind, but I don’t think I could swallow the lack of effort.”
Van Liew added, “The good news and an excellent by-product of this predicament is that the boat didn’t come to a stop until I got to within spitting distance (that is, if I had anything in my mouth except cotton) of the Finot Twins [Mouligne and Garside]. I’m sure that they must be very tired of this and I headed for them thinking there was no way they would be parked when I got here. OOPS! To quote the wicked witch of the west: ‘I’m meellltiiiing.'” Further ahead, Team Group 4 skipper Mike Golding had a different story to tell. The day before, Golding had steered his powerful Finot Open 60 dangerously close to Lisa, a risky move that ultimately paid dividends. In the process, he lost the masthead instruments that monitor crucial windspeed and direction information. Then, he wrote, “My annoyance at having got caught on the wrong side of Lisa made me push a little too hard and a major wave rent a three-foot tear in the genoa clew and snapped the mast rotating fuse.”
After weathering the worst of the blow, Golding “crashed out” at his nav station: “I need to be more conservative with the boat, I thought as I nodded off.” Upon waking, he said, “the boat was drifting along in generally the right direction. Without wind gear I lose many of the alarm functions on which I rely. I set out to get the boat going, then rigged the carbon windsurfer mast that forms the basis of a backup system and within an hour I had wind gear up again-not as good as the masthead gear…but a working system nonetheless. This little piece of pre-planning…cheered me up no end and I set about the rest of the chores with renewed enthusiasm. As a crewmember once said to me after a similar incident on the British Steel Challenge, ‘All this will do is make the finish closer.'”