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Sam Goodchild ‘On La Solitaire You Have To Be Good At Everything.’

Published on 30/08/2020

On his return to the Figaro circuit Sam Goodchild has made his best ever start to a season (2nd in the Solo Maître CoQ, winner of the Drheam-Cup), the 30-year-old skipper of Leyton knows he can not only better his career high water mark on La Solitaire du Figaro, 11th in June 2013, but has a realistic chance of becoming the first British sailor to finish on the overall podium.

Alexis Courcoux/La Solitaire du Figaro
Alexis Courcoux/La Solitaire du Figaro

Your start to the season was pretty good, to the point that you are considered one of the favorites of La Solitaire du Figaro, how do you evaluate your potential?
I would love to finish on the podium, I think I have what it takes to do a good Solitaire, I haven’t sailed the boat that long, but luckily it hasn’t been around for that long either. So far, the surprises that I have had in the different sailing conditions are just good surprises, so I hope that in the conditions in which we have not yet sailed in the fleet, it will be the same. There are quite a few unknowns, but so far it’s going pretty well, in training as well. So I know I’m capable of doing a good result, but I’m not the only one who can, so to say that I’m more of a favourite than some others, I think that’s not true.

What are your strengths that have allowed you to shine in pre-season races?
On the Solo Maître CoQ, I was second to last at the start, then I managed to get back into the fleet and then overtake people towards the end thanks to my speed, which is good. And in the Drheam-Cup, I made a good tactical move along the English coast and managed to keep my lead and even open it up it a bit. That was a good to win in a different kind of way because in La Solitaire du Figaro, it’s not one single thing which makes you win, you have to be good everywhere, and make fewer mistakes than the others, it tests your whole game.

How do you explain these good results when you haven’t been on the Figaro Bénéteau circuit since 2014?
There are several things. When I left the circuit six years ago I was much less experienced, I was only 24 years old, it was my first racing circuit, I had just done a little match-race before, not even much dinghy sailing. I started in Figaro, I sailed on my own, without learning much. Whereas for the last six years, I have only been sailing with super good people, which has allowed me to learn a lot. I’ve also done quite a bit of Class40 which is a very similar boat to the Figaro 3, so that helps. And at the start of this year I had the chance to sail with Pascal Bidégorry, who was on the circuit last year and is still one of the best offshore racing sailors today, he helped me a lot. .

How did he help?
When we sail together, you see where and when he sets his priorities, how he adjusts a sail, a foil, this boat is not like the Figaro 2 where there was a way of doing things that worked and not the rest. There are still a lot of unknowns there, so experimenting with him, choosing where to put your time and energy, allowed me to progress quickly. He really is someone who is very good at details and puts a lot of intensity on the water. The training on the water in January was like starting Solitaire du Figaro.

How do you see the first stage?
It will be a usual stage of La Solitaire du Figaro, that is to say complicated. Tomight we will get into a light area that we have to cross in the best possible way, because those who come out first will really profit. Afterwards, there is a frontal passage in the Irish Sea to get to the Fastnet, then, on the return, we don’t yet know if it will be reaching or if it will be upwind. So it should be neither too neither too windy nor too light, we must be able to keep pushing because even 20 miles from the finish, there is a course mark where there is 6 knots of current, so if there is no wind at this place, which seems possible according to some files, we can find ourselves stopped and having to wait six hours for the contrary tide to change. It is quite possible you can get to the Fastnet well ahead and then still finish back here with the others. So, all in all a good Figaro stage.

You could even become the first Englishman to win La Solitaire, is that something you think about?
I would love to win, but I don’t really think about being the first Englishman. What interests me is to make a result and to beat sailors that I admire, whether I am English or not is not a consideration really. The pressure doesn’t come to be the first Englishman to win it only comes from me to do well. But if a good result can allow other foreigners, in Europe or the United States, to see that it is possible, and the circuit and the race can become more international, that would be great.

Translated from French

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