<I>"I keep falling into clouds and having to tack. My course must look like a plate of spaghetti! I've zigzagged the whole day - it's exhausting!" </i>
"I've had quite a busy night with lots of manoeuvres, but its all been alright. I got sucked into the coast a bit too much and ended up in the middle of a load of fishing boats. One of their nets got caught around the keel, but broke and got clear. Haven't seen any of the others recently, but think I saw Virbac in the night. I decided to stick a tack and get right out, I'm pretty sure I crossed in front of them. He was on the inside..Conditions have been reasonably steady, with 15 knots of breeze from the east."
Keep reading for yesterday's report from Ecover in the Défi Atlantique...
On race day one, the Défi Atlantique race organisers have been experiencing satellite positioning problems, so frustratingly exact boat positions are not available. Golding rang in earlier to describe his first night on ECOVER, and is convinced that he is in the top 3, if not leading. Having had a slow start, ECOVER was the first boat to tack, which pulled him several positions up the fleet. Golding has not looked back since.
"We must have moved up the fleet quite quickly when I first tacked. Over night I had several boats tack with me, which I think were Alex (Thomson) and Vincent (Riou) and maybe Joe (Seeten), but I lost Joe and Vincent hours ago. Conditions were calm, with 15 knots of breeze. Conditions have been really perfect, and I'm very happy with my boat. All's well on board."
According to this morning's radio vacations, not many of the skippers have had much chance of sleep yet, but Golding has had plenty and was in fact woken up by the organisers call. He told them, "it has been quite steady and quite quiet during the night. We had some excitement in the first few hours of the race, but ECOVER is ticking along nicely now. We're all in upwind conditions, so it is still a bit uncomfortable, but it is not bad. Generally conditions are perfect with 15 knots of breeze. I got plenty of sleep, in fact you woke me up! This morning I was just able to see a boat on the horizon - it could have been Alex (Thomson) or maybe Jean-Pierre (Dick). I can't see anyone else around me now. We're all trying to stay off the coast and I'm moving on a big starboard tack, but the danger is the wind is moving at 20 degrees, so it's a big advantage having boat that goes to windward - it helps keep away from coast. I'm getting safer and the others are getting more dangerous. They could be going past on the inside, but somehow I doubt it. I'm pretty sure we are in good shape."
When asked how he was coping with the new ECOVER in single-handed configuration, he said, "Everything seems to be good. There's a lot more load on everything than on the Finot, everything is more powerful, if you go to wind a winch, that would normally be easy, our new winches are harder to wind, but they are better and more powerful."
On the future stage of the race he said, "We are likely to see a slow lift away from the coast, as we head further north, so I was quite quick to tack yesterday, I went out on port quite a short way, only about 10 miles, as I imagine as I go north I will get lifted and so far so good. I'm making progress slowly, slowly away from the coast."
Further details are available on the event website at the address below.