Sailing: Golding stays upbeat in Vendée pursuit

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Mike Golding was looking forward yesterday to making his last payment on the entry fee for the knock-out tussle for glory in the Vendée Globe single-handed round-the-world race.

As he pointed the bow of his Open 60 Ecover towards the notorious passage round the bottom of Cape Horn, he was able to size up the scale of the problem ahead.

He has suffered the anxiety of falling hundred of miles behind on his passage southward down the Atlantic. Although he has pushed himself and the boat as prudently as possible through the storms, high rollers and iceberg minefields of the southern ocean, today he will find himself nearly 100 miles short of his pre-race target of being within 200 miles of the leader at this stage.

Jean le Cam will be nearly 300 miles ahead and the second-placed Vincent Riou has a 60-mile advantage, but Golding is in an upbeat mood. He believes that if the normal upwind pattern materialises during the last 7,000 miles to the finish at Les Sables d'Olonne he has a strong chance of becoming the first British winner of what has become one of the foremost sailing events in the world.

The Briton who was second in the last Vendée, Ellen MacArthur, was also much more cheerful as her 75-foot trimaran B&Q was "smoking" its way through the international dateline to Cape Horn, still two and a half days ahead of the timetable she must beat to set a new solo round-the-world sailing record.