Sunday, 29 November 2009

TJV: Golding and Sanso

Mike Golding Yacht Racing reaches Costa Rica. Image copyright Marcel Mochet/AFP.

by Régis Lerat

Out of the early Caribbean morning sunshine, Mike Golding and Javier Sanso, glided the final miles to the finish off Puerto Limon, Costa Rica to complete the Transat Jacques Vabre in an excellent third place.

It is the British skipper's sixth consecutive Transat Jacques Vabre race and the fourth time he has finished on the podium, a record in the IMOCA Open 60 class that no other skipper has matched in this Transatlantic Race. Golding finished second on 2001, and third in 1999 and 2003, and today.

And Sanso, who finished fourth in the Barcelona World Race and took fourth in this race in 2001, becomes the first Spanish sailor in the nine editions of the race to finish on the podium in the IMOCA Open 60 class.

Mike Golding Yacht Racing finished at14:59:38 hrs UTC Wednesday 25th November (0859hrs local time, Costa Rica) after sailing for 17d 1hr 29 mins 38 seconds at an average speed of 11,54 knots since leaving Le Havre on Sunday 8th November, Mike Golding and Javier Sanso took third place in the IMOCA Open 60. Mike Golding Yacht Racing sailed a distance of 5317 miles and finished 1 day 6 hours 7 minutes and 28 seconds behind the Class winner Safran.

In the early tranquillity of the dockside he echoed the remarks of race winner Marc Guillemot, confirming it was one of the toughest races he has competed in.

During the big Atlantic storm over Thursday 12th and Friday 13th November, Golding admitted that both he and his Spanish co-skipper Sanso were confined below ‘just waiting for something to break', but the final miles over the last two days in to today's finish were frustrating for the duo, struggling through light, sticky, winds with French double Vendée Globe winner Michel Desjoyeaux 50 miles behind.

“In reality we were never too concerned about him. It seemed like an impossibility, but then you never do really know in this game, you can never say never, but I felt like we had covered the northerly option.” Golding said.

Mike Golding is soaked in champagne. Image copyright Marcel Mochet/AFP.

Just as for the two skippers who finished ahead of his Mike Golding Yacht Racing, third today is a welcome solid result gained in a high quality fleet, a welcome liberation after Golding had to retire from last winter's Vendée Globe race when his mast broke just after he had taken the lead.

Golding and Sanso took a bold northerly option after emerging from the English Channel, a key move along with Groupe Bel and Safran. The trio managed the transition from northerly routing well which left them in the best possible shape compared with their southern rivals to deal with the high pressure system which stood between them and the easterly trade winds.

The British Spanish duo were in second place for three days before small technical issues started to impede their ability to match the consistently high speeds set by the leading duo Safran and Groupe Bel.

Golding said he was happy with their result, but still frustrated that they could not have taken full advantage of their opportunities. But his boat has had a long refit after the Vendée Globe and he and Sanso only paired up a few weeks before the start, and had only sailed a benign qualifying sail together.


Javier Sanso (ESP) Mike Golding Yacht Racing:

“It was a pretty tough race and we are happy with the result. Certainly when I look back and remember being in Le Havre and looking around at the standard of the fleet, and all the rock-stars of the IMOCA Open 60 world, I am very pleased to be in here with this result. Yes, it is a little frustrating that we had our problems which held us back, our electrics, battery and engine problems, but in the end it is a good result to be proud of. It was tough in the big storm. I don't mind telling you we were down below for a time just ready for whatever was going to happen, lifejackets on, harnesses on, but the thing is it was so bad outside I don't know what we would have done.”

Mike Golding (GBR) Mike Golding Yacht Racing:

“ The mast is still up, the keel is still on and we are in relatively good shape, with a good result. I think that it is the same for all us top three boats here. We are all boats who were in the Vendée Globe, and for one reason or another were knocked out of the Vendée Globe, so for all of us it is a nice feeling to exorcise that demon.”

“ In the scheme of things it was a pretty tough race, obviously we were going to be challenged from the outset. We looked at the southerly option and we came to the conclusion it was not a go-er in terms of competitiveness. The reality is it was downgraded but the reality was it was pretty horrible, but after that it was pretty fast and furious. We had some technical problems which hindered us a little bit more, but overall very pleased to be here, pleased to be third.”

“ We are maybe a little disappointed. As we came out of the bad weather we were in great place to do better than that, but we had a few technical problems on boat with instrumentation on board and progressively started to lose little mile, and then we were in worse cycle where the boats ahead were into stronger cycle all the time and they were damage on us but also on the whole fleet and now you have a very big time split.”

“ The last bit was a little frustrating. Michel Desjoyeaux is just behind us, you are very aware that the boat coming from behind has the upper hand because he can see what you are doing and choose to do something different. In reality it was a very big margin, so it would have been pretty amazing if he had got past, but you can never say never in sailing. We kind of made to go stealth for the last bit, just in case it went really sticky here at the entrance, so he just wouldn't know where we were. But, what the hell, I did not see how he was going to come back from that kind of deficit.”

“ It is a good result for Javier and I. We were literally thrown together in the last weeks for the preparation before the race. So for both of us it is a good result. We had no training time. The boat has not sailed this summer, the shore time did a great job in the preparation in the time scale, but we just had not put the time in on the water. So you lok at Groupe Bel and Safran and you see two good boats which are rightful first and second. They are well sailed, great teams and good boats. But we know in another world we could have done better but third for us is a good result.”

“ The storm in fact did not look too bad. On the files it looked downgraded but in fact we had sustained 50 and the highest wind speeds we saw was 67 before our wind gear all snapped, it was pretty windy. You see storms like that in the Southern Ocean but you are going downwind, and going upwind is pretty crazy in these boats. We took quite a bold decision to push through in the north , we did not take too many risks and we were pretty careful with the boat, but the damage we sustained, the wind gear and stuff like that you can't really avoid. It was a very storm, very bad. Very long. That seemed to go on for ever. We were rigged and ready, lifejackets on, harnesses on, ready to go and do whatever we needed to do, although who know what you would have done in those conditions, but we were already to do whatever we would have needed to do. But really no much did because of the way we had set up the boat prior to the storm, one of the big difficulties was trying to monitor the boat, trying to sail close hauled, which normally you can do with the wind instruments, but with none you have to avoid an accidental tack which would be devastation.”

“ In the big long drag race after the storm, Groupe Bel and Safran started to pull away, and we had some technical problems and that was part of it, but we were trying everything. We were hand steering all the time, but I was seeing the weather files and they had two knots pressure all the time. You kind of have to think that there is nothing wrong with your boats speed because we were doing exactly the same to the boats behind. So the reality is it was just expansion an compression. I don't think, boat speed wise, we have a problem. Upwind and downwind this boat is quick, it is a polyvalent boat. It is good at everything but not brilliant at one thing.”

“Both Safran and Groupe Bel are good boats. I think they did a great job. Safran in particular sailed a superb race, tactically they were right on the money. And they were very consistent and just did not seem to have any down days. You always assume you are the only one with problems, but the reality is probably half the boats who went through that storm came out with some kind of problems.”

Transat Jacques Vabre

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