Sailing: Portents look positive for Golding

Scrapping for the lead in the south Atlantic and storming through the southern ocean to Cape Horn, Britain's solo sailors were having a good day at the office yesterday.

Mike Golding was poised to take the lead in the Vendée Globe round the world race as a combination of sheer hard work plus canny tactics after he had rounded the tip of South America paid off. He had predicted that both he, when he was in third, and the man ahead of him, Vincent Riou, would overtake the 17-day leader, Jean le Cam. Yesterday morning they both achieved that and Golding was also breathing down the neck of Riou, only two miles ahead of him, as he stretched to a 20-mile advantage over le Cam.

"I was secretly hoping to jump to second place," Golding said. "Obviously I want to win it - that's my goal - but quite frankly we are having a great race. One thing I know for certain is that it's not going to be straightforward and there will be a bit of to-and-fro before Les Sables d'Olonne. So I am trying not to allow myself to get too wound up about it."

For Helen MacArthur, there was the satisfaction of recording her personal best of 496.2 miles in 24 hours as her 75ft trimaran, B&Q, closed to within 1,000 miles of the Horn. The downside was "having deep trouble trying to sleep... I can't switch my brain off. I'm pushing harder than I'd like, I'm not comfortable, but I think it is the time to push hard," she said.

But it means she now has nearly five days advantage in hand as she attacks the target of 72 days 22 hours 54 minutes for sailing single-handed round the world set by Francis Joyon nearly a year ago.

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