Sailing: Time short for Golding as rivals near finish

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The Independent Online
TIME WAS running out for Mike Golding as Jean le Cam took the lead in the Vendee Globe round-the-world race yesterday. But, approaching 500 miles to the finish at Les Sables d'Olonne on the west coast of France, Le Cam could not stay ahead of the leader for the previous 18 days, Vincent Riou, who manoeuvred into a more favourable line of attack in the closing stages. Le Cam briefly retook the lead before Riou moved back in front.

What all three could look forward to was knocking nearly a week off the previous best time, set by the 2001 winner Michel Desjoyeaux, of 93 days and three hours. Golding, 50 miles behind in third, was able to say: "I have just got to play out this last bit, but the die was cast days ago when I had the problem with the mainsail halyard [the Vectran rope which hauls the sail up the mast] for the last time."

Race organisers were yesterday forecasting a finish tomorrow, the 87th day of the event. Golding, in an upbeat mood, said: "I don't feel at all stressed and I'm not tired. I'm ready to party when I arrive."

Further south Ellen MacArthur, on her 64th day aboard the 75-foot trimaran B&Q, was enjoying better conditions as she counted down the final 2,000 miles to the finish of her bid to set a record for sailing solo round the world. She has more than two days in hand on her schedule and, barring the cruellest of luck, she should cross the line off Ushant a good three days faster than the 72 days 22 hours 54 minutes set a year ago by Francis Joyon.