This much I know: Mike Golding

Published on June 16th, 2013

Britain’s Mike Golding is one of the world’s most accomplished and successful offshore sailors with over 250,000 sailing miles and podium success in many of the world’s toughest and most extreme yacht racing events. Mike has held and holds several world records, including the first person to have raced around the world in both directions.

Awarded the OBE for services to sport (sailing) in 2007, Mike shares those views attained during his 52 years:

I’ve broken records I didn’t even know about. Some say I’ve crossed the equator 27 times – I don’t know, I don’t count [Golding has done three nonstop solo sails around the world in one direction and three in the other]. I don’t sail to accumulate; I do it to race.

You can rush into a burning building and find your way out if you’ve trained. I was a career fireman for 12 years before I made the switch to sailing. Both jobs have risk, or at least the perception is risk. Your training makes it safer.

The Southern Ocean and Cape Horn are the world in the raw. They’re so untouched that when you see debris floating in the ocean – a fridge, a table – you know you’re back in the Atlantic. It’s amazing what people throw off a boat.

I’m all for environmental realism. Jeremy Clarkson is the opposite of ethical righteousness, but I think we need the yin to the yang, to find a middle ground.

I was a child of the generation that was seen and not heard. Kids aren’t like that now. I find my life is often controlled by what my son wants to do, which is not a bad thing – there are so many opportunities for young people. But we shouldn’t pander too much.

My dad was stronger, bigger and faster than me, but he was rubbish at sailing. It was the chink in his armour and I exploited it.

Having a royal family is the best PR that Britain does.People knock the monarchy because they worry about money, not the way we look – but that’s what creates our value. Without the queen we’d be like everyone else. We’d disappear.

A typical day on the boat equates to six- or seven-hour-long hard gym sessions. And so I’ve got to face reality – at the next Vendée Globe race, I’ll be 56. I could have done better this time [Golding finished 6th] and that’s annoying. Those things stick.

I couldn’t be married to someone who supported me under sufferance. The great thing about my wife being an experienced sailor is that she knows the risks, so she knows when not to worry. The negative side? She knows the risks.

For every disappointing period in my life, I’ve had some glamour years. You know, those times when it seems like nothing you do can go wrong and even when you do the wrong thing it somehow comes out right.

The America’s Cup boats are so outrageously fast, accidents have got to expected. People were surprised at Andrew Simpson‘s death [the Olympic gold medallist died in a training accident in May] but it’s the F1 of sailing.

To Einstein, a regular night was waste of time so he slept for half-an-hour at a time. On the boat, I sleep on average for 18 minutes. It’s my optimum cycle, the minimal amount I need to preserve energy. I’m the best napper there is.

Mike Golding is an honorary member of the Champagne GH Mumm Cordon Rouge Club, which celebrates extraordinary achievers (

Mike Golding. Photograph: Fabian Marchandise

349 Hawthorne Avenue
Summerside PE C1N 2C9

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