Sailing: Britons rule the waves as they set pace in yacht races

Anglo-French rivalry has been fought out in many arenas but perhaps nowhere more so than on the high seas. And yesterday the English sailors Mike Golding and Ellen MacArthur put themselves in position to deliver mighty blows to Gallic nautical pride as they made significant progress in the two most gruelling waterborne challenges known to man.

Anglo-French rivalry has been fought out in many arenas but perhaps nowhere more so than on the high seas. And yesterday the English sailors Mike Golding and Ellen MacArthur put themselves in position to deliver mighty blows to Gallic nautical pride as they made significant progress in the two most gruelling waterborne challenges known to man.

After 66-days at sea Mike Golding, a heavy smoker who has not only been battling monstrous waves but who ran out of cigarettes some days ago, stole 23 miles ahead of his French rival Vincent Riou to lead the Vendée Globe solo round-the-world race. The 44-year-old married father now faces the heady prospect of being the first non-Frenchman to win the race, widely considered to be the toughest in the sport.

With 5,000 miles to go, he is hoping to finish at the end of January at Les Sables d'Olonne in western France.

Just seven days ago Golding, aboard the 60ft Ecover, was more than 250 miles off the lead, badly hampered by a broken mainsail halyard. Five years ago, his dream of winning the race was shattered after only eight hours when his mast snapped. But yesterday he was said to be "chirpy" and appeared confident, if a little guarded. "Clearly it's a good result this morning but we'll wait and see how it pans out once we're through the trough," he said, referring to the depression which has sent him powering into the lead.

"We may come to a stop but it doesn't look like that is going to be the case," he said.

In a separate but equally gruelling endeavour, his friend and sometime-rival Ellen MacArthur rounded Cape Horn four days, two hours and 45 minutes ahead of the solo round-the-world record she is chasing - set by another Frenchman, Francis Joyon, a year ago.

As she rounded the tip of South America in 30ft waves and 60-knot gusts in her 75ft trimaran B&Q to begin the final trek north across the Atlantic to the finish line off the Lizard in Cornwall, she admitted to being strangely moved at putting the Southern Ocean behind her.

MacArthur's reports on her website, www.teamellen.com, have earned her a loyal and passionate following. She said yesterday: "I cannot feel I shall miss this wild and wonderful place but somehow the south finds a place inside you that you were unaware you had ... the albatross we see on this voyage are now numbered, their graceful flight and companionship will have to remain etched in my mind till next time."

Barring a calamity, the two sailors could be set for a double celebration when they are reunited next month as the English prepare to savour a double victory over their old maritime rival.

News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'