Vendee Globe Preview - Mike Golding

Ed Gorman looks at the chances of Team Group 4 in the upcoming solo epic
The world's toughest yacht race - the Vendee Globe single-handed round-the-world race - is almost upon us and after the glories of the Olympics it is tempting to hope that even more success for British sailing is in the offing. But it is no vain hope. Britain is prospering at the highest level in dinghies, in small keelboats and in single-handed Open 60 racing - and in Mike Golding we have a realistic potential race winner in the Vendee. Golding first made his name through Chay Blyth's British Steel and BT Global Challenge races and it is fair to say there are those in British professional grand prix sailing who will always dismiss him for that. But those critics are wide of the mark. Golding is no sprinter and round-the-cans has never been his speciality - even he admits his dalliance in the Admiral's Cup in 1995 was far from his finest hour. What he is good at is the sailing equivalent of marathon or cross country running. In this department there are few in the world who can match him for sheer grit and determination, together with a real sailor's skill for keeping his boat going in all weathers. Golding demonstrated these qualities when he broke Sir Chay Blyth's solo westabout round-the-world record in a heavy steel-built 67ft Challenge yacht in 1993-94, and again in this summer's single-handed trans-Atlantic race when he held it together on Team Group 4 while many of his future Vendee rivals either retired or slowed down. Set against that was his running aground off the northern tip of New Zealand while leading the Around Alone race in early 1999. This was the most agonising failure of his career, yet one which has left the former Berkshire firefighter stronger, calmer and with an undoubted sense that