Sam Goodchild in his own waters
Sam Goodchild is one of those Britons who have made the world their garden. He rarely visits his native England, and when his job as a sailor gives him the chance, it's with great pleasure that he returns to Portsmouth, the Solent, the Isle of Wight and his many friends. This will be the case on July 22, at the start of the Rolex Fastnet race, 50th edition, the great Franco-British Classic which will muster some 500 boats in the Solent, including 28 Imocas. A long-distance sailor who loves wide open spaces and distant horizons, Sam is particularly fond of this race from Cowes to Cherbourg, via the famous Fastnet lighthouse in the south-west of Ireland, a 700 miles contact regatta full of marine subtlety, within sight of the Cornish coast, across the formidable Irish and Celtic seas. There, in the company of Antoine Koch, he will continue to tame his FOR THE PLANET, the most successful Imoca boat in recent years, which he intends to lead to the top of the podium in his ultimate goal, the 2024-25 Vendée Globe.
"I've done a lot of sailing in the English Channel, along the south coast of England. I've got a lot of friends there, who are also taking part in the Fastnet race. So it's a great opportunity for me to come back to England. The Rolex Fastnet race is a superb race, with countless strategic and tactical difficulties. There are a lot of coastal navigations, which require a lot of vigilance. Vigilance again, particularly at the start and in the Solent, where there are so many boats on the water. Imocas aren't made for contact racing, as our large headsails block all immediate visibility. But it's a necessary step and a very interesting test to keep improving. The course is great, and we're expecting three very intense days, with lots of maneuvering. With Antoine (Koch), we continue to ask ourselves the right questions, to analyze our performances, good or bad. In this respect, Antoine is an exceptional partner. He knows FOR THE PLANET like the back of his hand, and has designed some of today's top-performing boats (FOR PEOPLE). As a racer and designer, he has a unique perspective and a highly relevant vision of all aspects of sailing. At the start of the FOR THE PLANET project, we share the same philosophy, the same questioning approach. We don't feed on certainties, but rather nurture permanent doubt and perpetual questioning. We're getting more and more comfortable with our Verdier 2019 design, and we rely on an exceptional team, the TR Racing teams, who enable us to approach the races with a great deal of serenity. The new designs are more seaworthy, with their very "rocky" hulls and large foils. But we're not far behind them. There's a real homogeneity at the head of the Imocas fleet. The boats are good, and so are the racers. I'm training hard, because I can't stay calm for very long."
Sam and Antoine will set sail for Portsmouth on tuesday July 18th, and remain there until the start of the race Saturday July 22nd.
Sam Goodchild, the ocean is his home
His simplicity is captivating, as is his very British straightforwardness. Sam Goodchild is a true child of the ball, from some other world, but is he really from our galaxy? His unusual path from the West Indies to the school benches of old England has shaped a rather unique sailor profile, whose one of the most striking features is without doubt his incredible capacity for adaptation, assimilation and integration.
Everything in Sam Goodchild's life seems to be in a fast-forward ! And out of sync! From a carefree childhood in Grenada, to the mists of an English high school, Sam Goodchild has burned through the levels, Living at 100 miles an hour, the moment, the twists and turns of an existence irresistibly drawn to the sea. Born in Bristol 34 years ago, This self made sailor cultivates contrasts and incongruities. White man in the West Indies, exotic islander among the British, subject of His Majesty among the "froggies", a man of the sea, a top-level sportsman with a touch of adventurer about him, is a true practitioner of the art of paradoxes, never where you'd expect him to be, but efficient and in a hurry. The man is bursting with energy, but it's to the sea, the waves and the wind that he devotes his time and passion. He was only a few months old when his parents left Bristol to live on a boat in the West Indies, Grenada to be precise. A 35-foot skiff was his home for the first seven years. Little Sam flourished in a dream environment, in direct contact with nature. Against a backdrop of azure blue and sea, he learned to live a simple life and enjoy the things that surrounded him. He swam, dived, fished... and discovered sailing under his father's directing gaze.
With adolescence also came the time to return to England, to study and strengthen his education. But the call of the sea and boats soon overtook his interest in books. He was 16 when he met a certain Alex Thomson, who was hard at work on his Vendée Globe project. Vendée", a word that has resonated insistently in his adventurous mind since his earliest childhood and his father's reading. Alex and his academy set him on the path to his dream. He sailed a transatlantic and a transpacific, with Thomson's organization, which aims at helping young sailors to fulfill their vocations. Sam is now convinced of his destiny. He's going to be a sailor! Better still, an ocean racer. He swirled like a hungry shark around the port of Les Sables d'Olonne, offering his time, his arms and his eager-to-learn mind to the teams, finding boardings and quickly proving himself indispensable. Class40, Ocean Fifties, Ultime, Imoca... he's attracted to and passionate about all types of sailing craft. And he proved to be a formidable competitor. A dazzling talent ! His secret ? Humility, the wisdom to approach any new challenge with the sincere certainty of knowing nothing, of having to relearn everything all the time, convinced that giving the best of himself won't be enough, and that surpassing oneself is the only way out, whatever the race, whatever the support.
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