Strong Brit result in Transmanche
For the 27th successive year the Yacht Club des Abers ran the cross-Channel Transmanche race, traditionally a course from Aber Wrac’h to the breakwater at Plymouth and back again. In the 21-boat Figaro 2 fleet it was leading French Figarist Jeremie Beyou on BPI who reigned supreme out of the solo entries, but the British skippers put in a top performance with Nigel King on E-Line Orthodontics taking second, and Sam Goodchild aboard Artemis Offshore Academy in third, also the first placed ‘rookie’. Artemis Offshore Academy Associate member Conrad Humphreys finished in 16th place.
This was a rewarding result for Artemis Offshore Academy members King and Goodchild, competing against several seasoned French Figaro sailors, such as Frédéric Duthil, Jeanne Gregoire, Isabelle Joschke and Thierry Chabagny.
Commenting on his finish and being the first ‘rookie’ Goodchild said: "I am very happy with my result but I am under no allusions that the Solitaire du Figaro is going to be easy, as there will be many more sailors and a lot of talent. I have a list of things to work on over the next six weeks. This is to ensure that I can hit the start-line as competitively as possible and make the most of the Scholarship that the Artemis Offshore Academy has given me."
There was a last minute course revision due to a bad weather front expected early Sunday morning, and the race committee erred on the side of caution to ensure all the sailors reached the finish safely. Instead of racing across the Channel, the revised course saw all the sailors racing in the notoriously tricky waters off the west Brittany coast, including a passage through the Chanel du Four where the tide can reach up to 8 knots in very narrow rocky channels.
After the start, Nigel King, Sam Goodchild and Conrad Humphreys were in the middle of the pack. After the first upwind mark the fleet spread out and the wind dropped. At this point both King and Goodchild broke away from the fleet to the west behind French local sailor Michel Bothuon and into the challenging Chanel du Four. “It was great to follow local sailor Michel Bothuon through the Chanel du Four,” explained Goodchild. “It’s a possible route for the Solitaire du Figaro so it was great practice racing through there behind a local! Bothuon’s local knowledge enabled Nigel and I to sail with confidence through this very tricky passage with huge rocks either side of us hidden just under the surface of the water.”
“We were gybing, or ‘rock hopping’ as I call it, throughout the 10–12 mile channel and, thankfully, we had light conditions at that time,” reported King. Despite slow progress through the channel they managed to pick up the wind before the rest of fleet to secure a two-mile lead.
However, for King and Goodchild, a surprise was waiting for them on the dock in the form of Jeremie Beyou who had made an early break from the fleet and caught a crucial tidal gate to arrive one hour and 26 minutes before them. The rest of the fleet all finished within 50 minutes of each other, a true testament to the close racing in this competitive Figaro 2 class.
For King, this year’s Solitaire du Figaro will be his third time and after his 2009 finish in 23rd position with a final leg finish of 6th place, he is looking forward to the Solitaire du Figaro: “I am really excited to be racing in the Solitaire du Figaro for the third time, I have a lot of work to do before the race” explained King. “I managed to have three ten- minute naps during the race which was good, but one of my challenges is staying hydrated throughout racing which is crucial for maintaining concentration.”
“Sam’s time on the water, training and results so far will make him a very competitive entry in the ‘rookie’ class in this year’s Solitaire du Figaro,” commented King on his fellow Development Squad member.
Artemis Offshore Academy Associate member Conrad Humphreys finished in 16th place: “The speed differences in this fleet are tiny, so it’s crucial to always be thinking ‘Where do I want to be next’ and visualising the legs ahead. This is the area that I need to focus on over the next six weeks before the start of the Solitaire du Figaro.”
The Artemis Offshore Academy trio of Goodchild, King and Humphreys will now endeavour to get in as much training as possible before the ‘main event’ this summer.