British skipper Mike Golding completed the 2004-2005 Vendée Globe race after 88 days to finish in third place, while in the 2012-2013 edition, Alex Thomson achieved the same placing after 80 days of racing. Today the two came together, although almost half a world apart, for Vendée Live. They share a particular memory of the Southern Ocean, as ten years ago, Golding went to the rescue of Thomson. Hugo Boss will soon be halfway between New Zealand and South America, but conditions are much quieter for her skipper than on that fateful occasion in 2006.
Alex Thomson: “It is a bit frustrating in the Pacific after a rapid route in the Indian. I am currently going upwind with nothing much stopping me from going sideways. It is extremely frustrating but I could be in a much worse situation.”
Mike Golding: “The interest at home has been incredible. I talked last night at Southampton to the Years 1 2 and 3 ship and yacht design students and you are all they wanted to talk about.
Alex: “It is amazing, the support has been incredible.”
Mike: “It is apparent in the videos that when you are on the port board that you are not able to cant your keel? (…) One of the interesting things is that the way these boats are working is that they are not just lifting on the foils, they are also lifting off the keel. The keel is providing a good proportion of the lift. If you look at shots from ahead you see that actually they are sitting up on the keel and the foil. Without the foil there, the keel is still lifting and actually reducing your righting moment. Which means you might not be able to run with full keel.”
Alex Thomson: “It is difficult, especially upwind. Upwind the pin angles of the keel are actually helping. When the keel is fully canted it does help me. What I try and do is sail very high. I have a lot of leeway and I try and sail as high as I can and trying to keep the boat as flat as possible but with quite a lot of keel cant. The keel, when it is fully canted, does help to pull you to windward. Any way you look at it, it’s pretty ugly. In the night, when it is dark, it is OK because you can’t see your wake out the back of the boat. In the daytime you can see how bad it is. At night you can’t.”
Mike Golding: ”It’s remarkable how well you have stayed with Armel in the stronger conditions. Do you feel safer on the broken foil side when it is windy?”
Alex Thomson: “When the conditions are bad, fast and big waves, you bring the foil in anyway. If the foil carries on working the boat is just airborne all the time. It becomes apparent very quickly that you will damage the boat. In 30-35kts you bring it in. And on my foil when I am hitting 25kts of boat speed you start to retract it bit by bit. The biggest advantage is at the lower speeds, in 13-18kts, you go as fast with my foils in 18kts of wind as you do in 25kts of wind.”
© Vincent Curutchet / Dark Frame / DPPIMike Golding: “I notice you dragging miles back in on Armel on the broken foil, do you think you it does not hinder you so much downwind in the strong breeze?”
Alex Thomson: “I think that is sails. I have different set of sails from him. It is apparent in the videos that I am a bit more set up to go downwind in strong winds than he is.”