Mike Golding sailing Ecover has won Le Défi Atlantique, beating Vincent Riou by two hours and 43 minutes after 4,100 miles of extraordinary close racing

Mike Golding sailing his Owen Clarke-designed Open 60 Ecover crossed the La Rochelle finish line at 05:24:10 this morning to win Le Défi Atlantique. He beat the 31-year-old Frenchman Vincent Riou sailing the Finot-Conq -designed PRB. After 4,100 miles of extremely close racing, Golding inched ahead during the closing stages and, in his finely tuned, upwind flyer, was able to outpace Riou and cross the La Rochelle finish line two hours and 43 minutes ahead. Golding led the race for a total of six days and stayed in the podium positions for 14 of the 16 days racing.

Chatting to Yachting World as he crossed the line Golding said: “I feel very, very happy. I’m happy with the way the boat performed and obviously happy with the results. It was an extraordinary race. I don’t think I’ve ever done one where the positions have changed so much, but where the miles have ended up so close.”

This is Golding’s first Open 60, solo overall race win, which makes the result even more significant. He launched the boat earlier last year and after just 2,000 miles of sea trials, took a third place in the Transat Jacques Vabre (two weeks before) with co-skipper Brian Thompson.

Alex Thomson who broke the new solo 24-hour world speed record see news story here had to eventually settle for third in Défi Atlantique after an extremely exciting battle with Riou. Even in the final three hours of the race Thomson had broken through Riou’s cover but with electronic gear failure including broken wind instruments, he was unable to hold off the ever-threatening Frenchman and crossed the finish line just 20 minutes astern and exactly three hours behind Golding.

Current finishing positions

1st Ecover – Mike Golding

2nd PRB – Vincent Riou

3rd AT Racing – Alex Thomson

4th VMI – Sébastien Josse