Mike Golding's new generation Open 60 officially named this morning by HRH The Princess Royal 17/9/07

Mike Golding’s brand-new, new generation Open 60 Ecover was officially named this morning by HRH The Princess Royal at the Southampton Boat Show.

This recently completed Owen Clark design, built in Wellington, New Zealand by Hakes Marine, is a development of Golding’s previous Ecover in which Golding succeeded in notching up no less than eight podium places from 10 starts within the IMOCA circuit.

Hundreds of invited guests and press attended this morning’s naming ceremony at the boatshow, and Golding was joined on the boat by Ecover’s Jorgen Philip-Sorensen, and HRH The Princess Royal who carried out the traditional ‘breaking a bottle of Champagne over the bow’ christening.

Golding chatting at the ceremony commented: “It’s been an amazing day and I feel very honoured that the Princess Royal was able to attend. As a godmother, The Princess Royal doesn’t have a lot to do from now but maybe if I have to drop out of the Vendee for some reason maybe her role is to take my place. No seriously, there is no role but it is lovely to have someone tied to the boat and I hope through this she will follow our progess and maybe be at the start and finish.”

After today’s ceremony Golding confirms that he now needs to get out on the water with the boat as soon as possible because he has very little time now before the start of the double-handed Transat Jacque Vabre which he will be racing with team mate Bruno Dubois. The idea is to sail the boat for the first time Thursday this week.

Golding continues: “Really looking forward to the first sail but we have a lot on our plate at the moment because with the first competitive race, the TJV in November, we need to complete a 1,000-mile qualifier. The idea is that we give the organisers a 1,000-mile course and they track us on our Sat C. Once that’s over we can then concentrate on working the boat up.”

Merv Owen from Owen Clark Yacht Designs was also at the show this morning and spoke a bit about the new design: “This boat is effectively a development of Dominique Wavre’s Open 60 Temenos but the hull is even more powerful; the waterline beam ratio between waterline and the overall beam is basically wider. It may not look so wide on the deck, but below, where it counts, is wider.

“We have raised the righting moment even more. The old Ecover was the largest righting moment boat in the fleet last time but interestingly she probably won’t be this time. She’ll definitely be up there. We could have gone a bit further but instead we concentrated on righting moment/power to weight ratio. We’ve put a big engine in the vehicle but at the same time we’re smoothing it out to try and save weight in the right areas.

“I think this boat is at the next level, she’s a level above Temenos, and even she’s holding her own against the new generation boats. We’ve had the advantage of developing this boat with the results from tank testing and analysis we did on Temenos. We were able to use all the information. We have since then gone through another series of tank testing so we are feeling very confident. We know she’ll be a quick boat but the challenge now is to see if we can make her a reliable boat within the time we have available between now and the Vendee Globe which starts late next year.

“She’s different from the old boat but there’s enough about the old boat for Mike to be able to step aboard and feel at home.”