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THE TRANSAT: BRITISH SKIPPER MIKE GOLDING CLINCHES MAJOR SOLO VICTORY...
 
      At 04:18:08 GMT today (Sunday, 13.6.04) British skipper Mike Golding, on the Open 60 Ecover, crossed the finish line of The Transat at the entrance to Boston Harbour to claim victory in the Open 60 monohull class.

 






Golding raced the 2800 mile course in 12 days, 15 hours, 18 minutes and 8 seconds at an average speed of 9.23 knots. In doing so, Golding has set a new solo transatlantic race record taking 2 days and 43 minutes off the existing record set by Frenchman Yves Parlier in the 1992 race on board Cacolac D'Aquitaine of 14 days, 16 hours and 1 minute.

In winning this historic solo Atlantic race, Golding has notched up the first major solo offshore race victory of his career. He managed to protect his narrow lead of 21 miles ahead of Swiss skipper Dominique Wavre (Temenos) right to the finish line set between Deer Island Light and Long Island Head Light at the entrance to Boston Harbour. It was a tense fight all the way to the line as Golding raced his way under darkness to the finish in a 10-12 knot SW breeze tacking all the way up the channel. It was the end of a tough and dogged performance from one of Britain's best solo sailors. From the first day of racing, Golding lost the ability to manoeuvre his canting keel using the hydraulics on board and had to manually cant the keel. In the storm-force conditions of the North Atlantic this involved laying the 60ft boat flat on its side and letting gravity swing the keel before securing it into position.

Since setting a solo, non-stop round the world record from east to west in 1994 of 125 days, Golding has been a major player on the solo scene but the number one slot of the big events has always escaped him. In the 2002 solo Route du Rhum he finished a close second to Ellen MacArthur and in the 2000/2001 Vendée Globe, although a hot favourite before the start, a dismasting on the very first night dashed Golding's hopes of victory. Today all that has changed - Mike Golding, on board Ecover, has convincingly won the toughest solo Atlantic race in the world.

A total of 37 boats, included 15 IMOCA monohulls, started the race at 1300 GMT on 31st May and to date six boats have abandoned the race. The remainder of the IMOCA fleet will finish in Boston over the next few days whilst the first 50ft multihull is expected to arrive from tomorrow onwards and the 50ft monohulls in three days time (16.6.04).

RACE SUMMARY:
The 2800 mile single-handed transatlantic race from Plymouth to Boston started at 1300GMT on 31st May. Weather conditions experienced by the leaders in the Open 60 monohull class sent them further north than in previous races and the fifth night of the race saw them tackling a giant North Atlantic depression bringing with it consistent 50 knot head winds and ferocious seas. These conditions took their toll that began with the 360 degree 'roll' and dismasting of the Open 60 leader Jean Pierre Dick on Virbac. A couple of days later in another big low, Vincent Riou on PRB dismasts and Swiss skipper Bernard Stamm on Cheminees Poujoulat-Armor Lux loses her keel - Stamm had to be rescued from his upturned hull. In total the monohulls had to tackle four low pressure systems - not exceptional conditions for this time of year. Unlike the ORMA 60s the Open 60 skippers opted not to enforce an ice exclusion zone but the majority of the skippers stayed on the cautious side not going above 47 degrees N - although some skippers identified icebergs on their radar systems at night. From Newfoundland, the weather gave some respite as it stabilised into a 10-15 knot N-NW breeze bringing flat seas and sunshine in the final approach to Boston.

ECOVER'S RACE:
31.5.04: First IMOCA boat to reach Eddystone Lighthouse - wins Omega Seamaster watch. Discovers that the motor powering the canting keel has serious problems and has to cant the keel manually.
1.6.04: In the lead by 3 miles ahead of Virbac at first poll of morning although Virbac gets ahead by 1700 GMT poll by 1 mile as the fleet head out into the Atlantic as severe weather is forecasted.
2.6.04: Golding confirms that his keel motor has 'fried' there is no hope of repair. Ecover falls behind Virbac by 30 miles at end of day as fleet experience light conditions in a ridge of high pressure before next low hits fleet.
3.6.04: Approx 500 miles west of the Irish coast, Ecover still in the chase 15 miles off Virbac's lead and 55 miles ahead of Hellomoto. Expectation of gale-force headwinds as Golding sees this as "an opportunity to settle down and race the boat."
4.6.04: Ecover takes the lead 4 miles ahead of Virbac at 1700 GMT positions. At 1830 GMT Virbac is rolled 360 degrees and dismasts in 50 knot winds and 6-8m seas.
5.6.04: As Open 60s go into 'protection mode' against the huge low pressure system, Ecover loses lead to Pindar AlphaGraphics at 1100 GMT poll - Mike Sanderson takes the lead by 2 miles.
6.6.04: Halfway stage of the race, Ecover retakes lead by 0600 GMT poll 3.4 miles ahead of Pindar AlphaGraphics with Cheminees Poujoulat-Armor Lux (Bernard Stamm) on the chase further to the north. Golding describes past 24 hours as: "The hardest day ever." At 0900 GMT poll the boats in the north Cheminess Poujoulat-Armor Lux and PRB (Vincent Riou) move into 1st and 2nd, Ecover drops to 4th 28.8 miles behind Stamm.
7.6.04: Drama as first PRB dismasts then Stamm loses keel - Ecover is leading by 5.2 miles over Pindar AlphaGraphics by end of play as front runners head into iceberg territory.
8.6.04: Newfoundland Grand Banks notorious for fishing boats and dense fog, Golding reports possible iceberg sitings on radar "I had three contacts on the radar - they were all around us". Ecover has just a 0.5 mile lead over Pindar AlphaGraphics at 1700 GMT positions.
9.6.04: Golding makes an instinctive tack to the south on a windshift during the positions blackout...by morning he is 23 miles ahead.
10.6.04: Ecover lead extends to 40 miles, Mike Sanderson tells Golding live on Transat Radio that he has a broken daggerboard. Never complacent, Golding says: "Everyone is a threat until I'm tied up on the dock in Boston."
11.6.04: Entering area of lighter winds and conditions improve on board - first chance to dry out gear and boat. Dominque Wavre (Temenos) moves into second place.
12.6.04: Sailing the final stretch in N-NW lighter headwinds, Ecover keeps ahead of Temenos by 30+ miles throughout the day. Many fishing boats, shallow waters and keeping ahead of Temenos - Golding predicts "the final 200 miles are likely to be very long".
13.6.04: Finishes race under a night sky in flat seas tacking all the way up the channel in a 10-12 knot south-west wind to the entrance of Boston Harbour and the finish line. Crosses finish line at 04:18:08 GMT.

MIKE GOLDING PROFILE:
Date of birth: 27/08/1960
Nationality: British
Place of birth: Norfolk
Current residence: Warsash (Southampton)
Personal status: married, 1 child
Previous participation in The Transat: 2000 / 3rd Class 1 Monohull
1988 / 3rd Class 6 Multihull
Career highlights:
2003 1st Defi Atlantique
3rd Transat Jacques Vabre with Brian Thomson
2002 2nd Route du Rhum
2001 2nd Transat Jacques Vabre with Marcus Hutchinson
3rd EDS Atlantic Challenge
2000 7th Vendée Globe / Team Group 4
3rd Europe 1 New Man STAR / Team Group 4
1999 3rd Transat Jacques Vabre / Team Group 4 wih Ed Danby
1998 2nd Atlantic Alone / Team Group 4
1997 1st BT Global Challenge / Group 4
1994 Record non-stop, solo round-the-world from east to west 125 days/Group 4
1992 2nd British Steel Challenge / Group 4

Mini profile:
The UK's most capped single-handed offshore racer has but one ambition at the moment - to win the Vendée Globe, after being so cruelly dismasted during the first 24 hours of the 2000 race, it is a testament to Golding's tenacity that he rerigged the boat and set off again, ultimately finishing seventh.
A former fireman, Golding has been racing short-handed since the 1980s, he raced in the 1992/1993 British Steel Challenge and then retraced his steps, this time solo and non-stop aboard his 67ft Challenge yacht, setting a new record time. He then decisively won the 1997 BT Global Challenge.
Since then Golding has concentrated on his Open 60 campaign. Golding convincingly won the first leg of the Around Alone and was leading the second until a grounding off the north of New Zealand put him out of the race. He followed this up with third places in the 1999 Transat Jacques Vabre and the 2000 Europe 1 New Man STAR.
For this year's Vendée Globe Golding has had a new boat built. The new Ecover was designed by Owen-Clarke and has a unique rotating mast that avoids the use of deck spreaders. So far the new Ecover has been performing up to expectation, coming third in last year's Transat Jacques Vabre, followed by a win in the single-handed Defi Atlantique. During the former race she showed exceptional ability upwind and this bodes well for The Transat.

PR CONTACT
Name: Sophy Williams
Company name: Mike Golding Yacht Racing Ltd
Tel: +44 (0)2380 634355
Fax: +44 (0)2380 574700
Mob: +44 (0)7876 445587
Email: sophywilliams@mikegolding.com
Web address: http://www.mikegolding.com
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For further information, please contact Lou Newlands or Isabel Genis
lou@offshorechallenges.com
isabel@offshorechallenges.com (French/Italian/Spanish speaking)
T: +44 (0)870 063 0218
F: +44 (0)20 7681 2912
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