At 04:18:08 GMT today 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).