SAILOR Mike Golding will have an extra passenger on board his boat during an upcoming yacht race – a toy dolphin given to him by schoolchildren.
The round-the-world yachtsman is getting ready to take place in the Vendee Globe yacht race.
But first he paid a visit to the children at Alverstoke Junior School.
And the youngsters there gave him their class toy dolphin, Sandy, to join him as co-skipper.
Mike said: ‘It’s really great to have the support of a local school.
‘The kids were so enthusiastic and have obviously been reading up on my career so far and the race itself.
‘Their knowledge and questions were fantastic.
‘Their enthusiasm inspires us all.’
Mike invited 30 of the children on board his yacht Gamesa at the Southampton Boat Show.
He spent an afternoon telling pupils all about the forthcoming race, which sets off from Les Sables d’Olonne, in France, in November.
The children have been invited to travel to Les Sables to wave goodbye to the yachts.
It is part of a project where the school in Alverstoke is linked with other schools in France, Spain, Poland and Turkey, using the Vendee Globe race to follow skippers and promote awareness of the marine environment as they race around the world.
Headteacher John Bailey said: ‘Many of our children have experience of sailing and are looking forward to visiting Les Sables d’Olonne for the start of the Vendée Globe.
‘Having a chance to climb on board Gamesa and chat to Mike was a real treat.
‘Among the children we may see a future Mike Golding or Dee Caffari.
‘This may well be the inspiration they needed.’