Sailing: Golding sharpens his world view

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"TO THINK," said one distraught Frenchman, "that a British team should beat Roland Jourdain and Jean le Cam. Quelle honte, what shame." The point was good, although he need not have wept too many tears as France had already taken the two top slots in the two-handed Jacques Vabre race from Le Havre to this jewel of a Spanish colonial resort, writes Mike Turner, in Cartagena, Colombia.

But Mike Golding and Ed Danby's third place, only 22 minutes behind the second-placed Catherine Chabaud and Luc Bartissol in Whirlpool, put down a marker which had their names mentioned with new respect in a community that thinks it owns its own game. They had taken a couple of notable scalps, and an important step forward on the world stage.

The winner (by 90 minutes), Thomas Coville, said three things were needed to win this race, and next year's singlehanded non-stop round the world Vendee Globe, for which it is a build-up. They were a fast boat, total focus, and determination.

He said he thought that Golding, who was keen to pay tribute to the role played by his teak-hard partner Danby, had all three; perhaps, in downwind conditions, even an edge on speed.

But, for Golding himself, more important even than the podium place was, he said, having had the opportunity in race conditions to find out more about how far and hard he could push both the boat and himself.

Britain is slowly taking the fight to the French, the long-time dominant force, in the Open 60 class and Golding's pounds 1m steed, Team Group 4, has just had a further pounds 250,000 of modifications and repairs.

Alongside him on the Vendee start-line next year will be Ellen MacArthur in a brand- new 60, backed by pounds 2m of Kingfisher's B&Q, Comet and Woolworth money. She was due in today having had to make emergency repairs to her mast on Yves Parlier's Kingfisher Aquitaine.