A party at midnight was on the cards for Mike Golding and the crew of his Open 60 Ecover as he raced the final few miles to Calais last night. At the end of the 1,850-mile Calais Round Britain race, he was still fighting all the way. Hanging on to a place on the podium in third position, he still had hopes of overtaking the second-placed French single-handed specialist Roland Jourdain, whose yacht has been in his sights for days.
In the lead, by 14 miles, was Vincent Riou in PRB. In fourth place, by seven miles but eating into Golding's advantage, was Bernard Stamm, the recent winner of the Around Alone Race and yet another unlikely example of Switzerland achieving one of yachting's top spots.
A keyed-up Golding was hoping that a tactical decision worked out with his router, Brian Thompson, and navigator, Miranda Merrin, would allow them to a more direct route to the finish as they crossed the Thames Estuary further to the west of the two ahead of him, who were tacking down the Belgian coast.
"We have gained on every single night of this race, which is amazing," Thompson said. "We have not had much weather information recently, so we haven't been able really to fine tune our route."
They were sailing in a 15-knot south-westerly, fast conditions which encouraged another crew member, Graham Tourell, to add: "We are counting on the hospitality of the people of Calais, and looking forward to a really good meal."