In Brittany, on Saturday the crowds will descended on Concarneau for the start of the next big transatlantic race, the AG2R.
16 teams will race in 31ft Figaro 2’s from Brittany, through the Canaries and then on to St Bart’s in the Caribbean. It’s a tough race attracting some of the top sailors from the Figaro class; the competition will be full on, identical boats pushed by identically driven and talented sailors all with the sole goal of making it there first.
Among the entries this year is our own British Team of Sam Goodchild and Nick Cherry, sponsored by Artemis and trained through the Artemis Offshore Academy; these guys have been living Figaros for well over a year now.
Like me, Sam and Nick’s primary focus has been on Solo sailing, the main event of the year will be the Solitaire de Figaro but double handed racing runs alongside most single handed campaigns. With all the dedicated solo classes having double handed races as well; they provide a different dynamic, a chance to compete alongside instead of against some of your competitors and keeping the calendar alive and interesting.
So what is it that makes a good double handed crew? Naturally a good balance across the board of all the skills it takes to make a distance sailor and expertise in different areas is primary, however after that most of it comes down to personality.
A small annoying tick can escalate to mammoth proportions after a couple of weeks together in a small boat; an inability to communicate can destroy team spirit, ruin strategy and potentially lead to basic mistakes. Losing trust in a co-skipper will result in lack of sleep, a culture of blame and ultimately this will have a detrimental affect on the boats performance.
So how will our Brits get on? Here’s my take from the outside.
Two very different people driven by a common goal; Nick Cherry has a mind which goes in a thousand different directions at a time, slightly chaotic but very effective. He is dedicated and interested in many things, lives life at a breakneck pace and gives his all. His sailing credentials are impeccable and he will take to this campaign a mentality that will always be looking for ways to improve, to go faster to push harder.
Sam Goodchild the youngest of the pair has a slightly calmer air; equally talented but with his experience lying in short handed and offshore Sam is unbelievably focussed. His attention to detail is never ending; having already suffered a retirement from the TJV last year he is leaving no stone unturned and no eventuality unconsidered to make damn sure they will make it across the pond this time. Sam’s dedication to the sport is immense and seldom does he allow his gaze to ever waver from the end goal; the Vendee globe – and I for one am sure he’ll make it.
So these guys have complimentary and diverse skills, they know each other well having trained and lived together for over a year but above all of this they are friends.
Yes we are professionals, we are all serious about what we do; driven to succeed and take the investments of our sponsors seriously but that does not mean we don’t have fun.
We sail because we love it and sailing with friends is some of the best fun that can be had. I believe that Sam and Nick are a fiercely strong team, they are motivated and I believe capable of winning.
However more certain than that I am also sure they are going to have a blast. Good luck guys, I look forward to seeing the videos when you get in.