Mike Golding's concern about light airs in quest to catch Bernard Stamm 13/11/06

These may yet prove to be the defining days of this first leg of Velux 5 Oceans solo round the world race. As Bernard Stamm seems set to emerge from the edge of a sticky and slow high-pressure system, Mike Golding is worrying that he may just be too late and may be snared in the resulting tentacles of painfully slow going for what could be days.

Alex Thomson, lying fourth, some 157 miles astern, today conceded that he will have to skirt around the outside, west side, of the high pressure. He will effectively sail two sides of a triangle, while Mike, Bernard and probably Koji will sail one, but Thomson may have the advantage of sailing higher speeds even if he requires to sail a longer distance.

Even although the ‘bungy’ (elastic rope) has now contracted to such an extent that ECOVER was down to within 200 miles of race leader Stamm this morning, computed to be 170 miles off the lead, Golding is more convinced than ever that he may miss the opportunity to sail free of the slow going when the high track east to catch him.

“The weather situation is looking pretty shabby for me now.” Mike grimaced this morning, “Bernard is just that bit further on and is probably on the other tack now. And I will have to stick on this one. I think he is probably on the other tack and going east and he has just stolen the march on us. The problem is going to be this high that is to the west of us is just going to keep rolling over us, and we are going to fight to go south, but it is just going to keep rolling over the top of us. It is not going to be a nice ten days.”

“At the waypoint (the next point of the course to Fremantle) the routing shows I will be two to three days behind, so back to where I was before, which is pretty frustrating.”

“There was always going to be an element of bungy in it, but when you get around the 200 mile mark, you hope that you are beyond the bungy and are actually closing the gap, but the reality is that the bungy has now snapped and he (Bernard) looks like he has got away.”

“I had been a strange night, becalmed for much of the time, but I got some shut eye but woke up with the boat tipped on its side, in sort of 20-25 knots of breeze but I had Code sails up and god knows what, but I actually had it sorted pretty quick and easy recovery.”

Mike reports that conditions are difficult now, sailing upwind under main and Solent (working jib) because there is a huge swell coming in from the South West which is under his lee-bow which has had the effect of helping broach the boat.

“Three times this morning I have had the boat on its side which is pretty boring but each time I have been OK and not broken anything but I have not really had a proper sleep now for 24 hours now and so I am feeling pretty tired.”

Golding has not run the routing for Alex Thomson’s options from his position but he is pretty convinced that he will sail the extra miles. The equation at the moment does seem like Alex will neither gain nor lose significantly, but that changes all the time.