British yachtsman Mike Golding has been awarded an OBE for his contribution to the sport of sailing 30/12/06

British yachtsman Mike Golding has been awarded an OBE for his contribution to the sport of sailing.

Golding, 46, who lives in Hampshire, is regarded as one of the world’s best offshore racing sailors.

Having sailed since childhood, Mike first came to public attention in 1992 as a skipper in Sir Chay Blyth’s revolutionary British Steel Challenge, when he led a crew of amateurs in this gruelling, inaugural race around the world, westabout, against prevailing winds and currents.

In 1994, he established a new world record for the same westabout circumnavigation, only this time alone. In doing so, he became only the second person to successfully complete this voyage bettering Chay Blyth’s original time by more than 125 days – a record Golding held for seven years.

In 1996/7, Mike won the BT Global Challenge round the world race, leading an amateur crew to victory in five of the six legs and achieving a combined lead of more than two days on his nearest rival.

In 1998, Golding and the entrepreneur Jørgen Philip-Sørensen CBE set up Mike Golding Yacht Racing to create and manage a commercial grand prix sail racing team. In that year, Golding commissioned the build of the team’s first Open 60 yacht and became the first British person to professionally manage an Open 60 campaign operating out of the UK.

In the same year, Mike was elected as Vice President of the International Monohull Open Class Association (IMOCA) and later became President of the IMOCA Technical Committee where he has been instrumental in the ongoing development of the Open 60 class rules, principally concerned with the safety aspects of a developmental class.

2001 saw the start of Golding’s successful partnership with the ecological cleaning products manufacturer Ecover; a partnership that has involved the establishment of an Academy for Youth Sailors from around the world.

During that year, Golding became the first person to have sailed around the world in both directions and the only British person ever to sail single-handed and non-stop around the world in both directions.

Representing Britain over the last decade, Golding has consistently been at the forefront of the professional Open 60 class, achieving podium positions in major events and setting three new world sailing records in the process.

Mike was FICO world champion 2005/6 and IMOCA world champion for two successive years 2004/5 and 2005/6; the first and only British sailor to hold this coveted title.

Golding is an Ambassador for the Royal Yachting Association and British Marine Federation’s Green Blue environmental awareness programme and has led initiatives to bring yachting and business together through high profile international sailing events starting from the UK.

Golding recently commissioned the design and build of a new Open 60 yacht with which he will compete in the IMOCA circuit culminating in 2008 in the Vendée Globe, the third time he has entered this gruelling non-stop solo around-the-world race.

Born in Great Yarmouth, Golding spent 12 years as a Fire Officer in the Royal Berkshire Fire & Rescue Service before pursuing his passion for sailing on a full-time basis.

Commenting on his OBE, Golding said: “I am delighted to have been awarded such an honour. I first learned of my nomination for an OBE while I was participating in the Velux 5 Oceans race when my wife Andrea rang me with news of the letter from No 10. At that time I was having a fairly tough time of it in the South Atlantic – my shore team must have wondered why I was in such amazingly good spirits!

“I love what I do and have always considered it an honour to be afforded the opportunity of competing at the very highest level in international offshore racing. Sailing is a tough and complex sport that requires huge commitment not only from me as the sailor, but also my sponsors, team and family. I thank them all for their continued support.

“As for the future – I fully intend to continue to contribute, where able, to the sport of yacht racing, a sport that has given me so much fulfilment since childhood.”

Rod Carr, Chief Executive The Royal Yachting Association added: “Mike is a truly outstanding offshore sailor who ranks among the very best in the world. He is a popular competitor both at home and abroad, where he is renowned for his tenacity, dogged determination and outstanding seamanship. Mike is involved in many aspects of sailing, and has been instrumental in developing the sport both within the UK and internationally. His contribution to the sport has been immense.”

Jørgen Philip-Sørensen CBE concluded: “I first met Mike when I sponsored the yacht he skippered during the British Steel Challenge 1992/3. Since that time I have encouraged his endeavours and watched him develop into one of the world’s finest offshore sailors. Mike’s passion for the sport is infectious and has inspired me in many ways. I am proud to have partnered him in his diverse sailing challenges and am absolutely delighted to see his achievements and contribution to the sport recognised through this honour.”

Golding will visit Buckingham Palace to receive his award from Her Majesty The Queen early in 2007.