Vendee Globe - Mike Golding set to clear Pacific East

Mike Golding, Gamesa - 2012 Vendee Globe
In the Vendee Globe, Mike Golding should clear Pacific East this morning, the final one of the eight safety gates which have been in place on the course primarily to corral the fleet north at key points to avoid the worst of the drifting Antarctic Ice.

Riding a SW’ly on the back of a depression, Golding had a fair night. In fact reports confirm that Dominique Wavre, the Swiss skipper, who is ranked seventh behind Golding, has satisfied the requirements before Mike. But Wavre has passed the westernmost point of the gate on a direct easterly course while Gamesa is targeting a point midway along and arriving from the SW. So Golding is still 80 miles ahead of Wavre.

Moving well through big seas and with the very gusty winds, Golding has actually reduced his margin slightly to fifth placed Jean Le Cam to 359 miles.

After the gate Golding will have 1300 miles to Cape Horn. Le Cam is expecting to be there Monday and Mike should make his sixth passage of the great cape on Tuesday.

5 January 2012 12:05 GMT : Speaking to the Vendée Globe Live:

How are the conditions for you today?

It is still very difficult, we are not in huge winds any more, we still have a very big sea running but the problem is we are still getting squalls through which are still very strong, they never settle down. I just have had a 35 knot squall on a baseline of 22 knots. Very difficult to have a sail plan that covers both those ranges. I'm approaching the Gate now, I'm only 6-7 miles to the south of it, paralleling it, just slowly making my way towards the far end. I'm still taking little nibbles out of it when I get a good wind shift, so hopefully once I am clear of the Gate i can maybe put the bow up and go for a simpler sail configuration and make a more direct and restful passage.

How has this Southern Ocean crossing been for you?

It has not been the easiest of passages and has certainly not been my quickest across the Souther Ocean. A lot of manoeuvres, because are pinned up to the northern gate, just keeping us out of the steady flow … obviously not entirely because the other guys who joined at the front have got the ride and kept the ride, but further back it has been more difficult. It has been a long way, we are looking forward to Cape Horn and start making some progress north.

How do you feel about rounding Cape Horn, last time you were there it was a completely different experience for you?

The Horn was alright last time, I had some problems later on near the Falklands with some halyards, but no the Horn was ok last time, but this time it looks more complicated. We approach with a trough, through a trough of very light airs and at the moment looking at the new file it seems we join another system at the Horn, 25-30 knots, and presumably quite gusty like this so could be quite breezy this time rounding the Horn. Then you have the added complexity of the knowledge of ice, which puts a new perspective on the whole thing. At the moment my routing has me carving a set of gybes right the way through the main cluster of ice so I am going to have to have a good think about that one.

Vendee Globe website
Mike Golding website