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Transat Jacques Vabre - Magnificent seventh for Bellion and Goodchild
2015 Transat Jacques Vabre© Jean Marie Liot

Transat Jacques Vabre

Transat Jacques Vabre – The seventh IMOCA monohull broke the finish line off Itajai this Friday 13th Nov at 1445hrs and 34s. Eric Bellion (FRA) and Sam Goodchild (GBR) took 19 days 02hrs 15mins 35 secs at an average speed of 11.78kts on the 5400 miles theoretical direct course between Le Havre and Itajaí.

They actually sailed 6116 miles at an average of 13.35kts and finish two days one hour fifty-three minutes and ten seconds after race winners Vincent Riou and Seb Col.

For Goodchild it is a long time ambition finally realised. He has started twice in Class 40 and had to retire early due to technical breakdowns. But on his first IMOCA race the young Brit and his French co-skipper have sailed an astute, sensible course to finish a credible seventh, not far behind Bertrand de Broc and past race winner Marc Guillemot who finished this morning on the identical Finot-Conq design MACSF.

Bellion and Goodchild on Stand as One chose the Northern route, which crossed the Irish low pressure system and then slid due south to the Azores. The 2007 IMOCA monohull had no chance to follow the furious tempo of leaders but had a great race alongside Bureau Vallée, Newrest-Matmut, MACSF and St Michel-Virbac until Jean Pierre Dick and Fabienne Delahaye route to Madeira.

The long tack to the equator is an opportunity for Bellion and Goodchild. In the South East trade winds they close up to sixth placed Bertrand Broc and Marc Guillemoton MACSF: Comme un Seul Homme steps away from the two chasing IMOCAs behind them and after Fernando de Noronha hold a steady solid seventh, to the finish in Itajaí.

Sam Goodchild, the young British skipper was paired up with French adventurer and pioneer for social change and diversity Eric Bellion through the recommendation of Michel Desjoyeaux.

Bellion is set to take on the Vendée Globe in one year’s time as the next step in his campaign to promote diversity as a positive asset for businesses and communities.

Bellion sailed around the world between 2003 and 2006 in an 8.5m boat with two friends. In 2010 he and tetraplegic adventurer Laurent Marzec founded Défi Integration which set a record for a passage between Port Louis Morbihan and Port Louis Mauritius sailing an adapted boat with three sailors with disabilities and three able bodied sailors.

The next step was founding Team Jolokia, a VOR60, which takes on prestigious ocean races with crews of diverse backgrounds and abilities, bringing together amateur teams of all different backgrounds, different ages, gender, disability, social and cultural spheres, demonstrating that high performance can be achieved and diversity brings real added value.

Bellion’s Stand as One Vendée Globe project aims to utilise the high profile of the race to share the belief that diversity is a source of innovation and performance.

The duo, Bellion and Goodchild, had spent limited training time on the Finot Conq design which was formerly DCNS. Goodchild started with the objective of learning the IMOCA and bringing his racing skills and outlook to Bellion’s programme. He had started twice, in 2011 and 2013 in Class 40 but both times did not make it past the Azores.

Finishing at his third attempt at the Transat Jacques Vabre Briton Sam Goodchild tucked into a well-earned steak and chips as soon as he could, pleased with the seventh placed finish.

“It was good. This is the best steak and chips I have ever had. I don’t know if that is because it is after three weeks at sea, or because we are happy with seventh. We set off to get here and to stay friends and we have done that very successfully. We never expected to get here seventh. There are so many breakages, more than half the fleet did not finish, and so to get here in seventh is great.

“It was complicated getting through the winter depressions, we had six days of pounding. The difference for us is that we did not know the limits of an IMOCA, we did not want to break the boat and we wanted to get to the end. So we finish with a ripped small jib and that’s it. It was tough. We have no structural damage.

Neither of us knew how hard to push and obviously this last week we have been able to push harder and get closer to the limits.”

“Eric is a communicator who teaches people to work together and to live together. He is a really good communicator. There was destined to be an argument because Eric comes from taking it easy and not breaking anything and I come from the Figaro where you push until you or the boat breaks. It was not destined to be a great match but we really worked hard since the start of the project six months ago to make sure it was not a problem. And so we communicated well and often. We said what we thought and we spent most of the time agreeing, finding a good compromise and I think the result speaks for itself. We got here. We are happy.”

Eric talks about how I helped him but actually this time I think he helped me because this time I got to the finish. It feels to get here finally.

by Transat Jacques Vabre

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