SAM GOODCHILD: First impressions
SAM GOODCHILD: First impressions
Artemis Offshore Academy graduate Sam Goodchild's first impressions of training at Pôle Finistere Course au Large.
Since my last update I have begun my preparations for the 2013 season in earnest. First on the New Year’s job list was to get my new boat painted. It is now entirely white and (almost) all of the previous sponsor stickers have been taken off. After a couple weeks in the yard, the boat went back into the water two weeks ago and I started on the smaller jobs, like customising and servicing all of the components that haven’t been used for a few months.
Nice, but a little too naked.. © Sam Goodchild Racing
I managed to get out for my first sail on the boat last week, which was very exciting. Despite it being a very windy day with gusts into the mid-thirties she behaved, is still in one piece and fortunately after my little winter break, I haven’t entirely forgotten how to sail…
I have now fully enrolled myself at the French training centre, Pôle Finistere Course au Large and since beginning our training in January, we have enjoyed a range of interesting shore based lessons including sleeping management, nutrition, electronics, engines and everything else that effects our ability to perform while racing. The first thing to say is that every lesson at Pôle Finistere is in French with no back up in English for when Henry and I get stuck. This is difficult, but means I have probably learned more French in the last four weeks than I did in the previous 18 months. The encouragement of necessity is evidently irreplaceable.
First sail © Sam Goodchild Racing
As part of the Artemis Offshore Academy I spent a couple years at various other training centers in France, which are all great in their own way, but I am very quickly learning why Pôle Finistere is the most popular of them all. The setup here is much more about facilitating professional sailing campaigns and it is entirely up to each individual sailor as to how much they get involved with, there is no one chasing and asking why you missed a session. The facilities to train are here and it is up to us to make the best of it, however this does come with pros and cons. We get a lot less input and support in regards to our campaigns that over the past season we have grown used to getting, be that technical or logistical. We haven’t encountered any ‘caginess’ yet, all of the sailors seem more than happy to share and discuss in debriefs, but we don’t have a coach boat following us in training and telling us we’re slow because of x y z.
It is also beneficial to be now sailing amongst very high-level skippers. With previous Solitaire du Figaro winners and big hitters joining us on the water, hanging on in there during training is a lot more difficult than it has been. The sense of achievement when you do manage to keep up though is satisfying, especially when you think that a large majority of the top ten Solitaire du Figaro competitors from previous years have come from our training group.
Sam Goodchild © Lloyd Images
So generally, my first impression of Pôle Finistere is that it will take a little bit of adapting to, but it’s the best place to be. I am currently on my way back to France for another week of training and then next Friday I will be heading out to Antigua for the Caribbean 600. I am joining Peter Harding and Hannah Jenner on 40 degrees for what promises to be a fun race in the sunshine. It is a 600nm course around the Caribbean Islands, starting and finishing in Antigua. The race starts on the 18th February and there will be a race tracker. More information and the race tracker can be found at the race website here.
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All for now