Sam Goodchild is one of the youngest, yet most successful transoceanic sailors, who’s just finished its first Transat Jacques Vabré, side by side with Eric Bellion. He talked to us about challenges, hopes and dreams. What carrier would he have chosen hadn’t he become a sea master, we don’t know…
You’ve just finished the Transat Jacques Vabre Race and it was the first time for you and Eric Bellion to compete in the IMOCA Class. How was the experience? Was it like you expected? What has surprised you?
Sam: The experience was unforgettable. The most important thing for us was to finish and stay friends because we didn’t have a chance of winning, and on that front it was successful. The IMOCA was very interesting and now I am hungrier than before to learn to sail this type of yacht. We learnt lots on the Transat, but we also asked lots of questions on how the top guys sail the boats. So now I would like to go sailing with an experienced team and understand what we did right and what we did wrong.
You finished seventh, what’s your assessment of this result?
Sam: Seventh was better than we expected for sure. With 20 boats at the start we were helped by lots of teams abandoning, but we were happy to be able to have a race with two of the other boats from the same generation as ours. We are proud of our result as well as the condition of our boat at the finish. With one of the smaller, least experienced teams, we are happy of the team work with all the shore crew to make the race a success for the whole team.
Your boat was named ‘Stand as one’. With Eric, did you feel like you were just one? How important is to get along with your co-skipper to achieve your goals?
Sam: Eric is a very good communicator and from the beginning of the project we worked hard on our relationship together. I normally push the boat a lot harder than Eric is used to, so there was potential for us to disagree on how we should sail the boat. But thanks to good communication we discussed everything including when we didn’t agree. And the result is: I finished my first (after 3 attempts) Transat Jacques Vabre, so we go home happy with our performance and ready to sail together again.
You are one of the youngest transoceanic sailors, do you think that poses a challenge or that, on the contrary, it is an advantage?
Sam: I have definitely been fortunate since I started my sailing career. Mainly thanks to the people around me who have helped and pushed me harder and further. Hopefully it’s an advantage, but at the moment I’m just going one step of a time.
You have kept breaking records this year on board Phaedo 3, do you think it is possible to go further and improve that?
Sam: Record breaking is new to me, but it’s fantastic to only leave the dock if the conditions are perfect, especially on a boat like a MOD70. Some records are easier than others, but we are happy to raise the bar and hopefully start a trend to get other boats going for more records and increasing the challenge. Coming from one design sailing the most exciting thing for me is racing against other boats, so I’m excited to see Concise joining us in the Caribbean circuit and hopefully some of the other rumours about other MOD70s joining the circuit are true.
What do you think are the pros and cons of Figaro40 and IMOCA60? Which one do you prefer?
Sam: They are all fantastic in their own way. The Figaro is easily accessible and a simple boat to sail and manage which puts the focus on the sailing, where you learn quickly what works and doesn’t work. Especially managing yourself personally when tired. Then with the 40, the focus is more on the being well prepared with the boat, because they are faster and more fragile, so it’s harder to get them to the finish without breaking them. The 60, even more, but I’ve still got lots to learn there. One thing for sure is the lessons you learn in the Figaro are invaluable in the bigger, more complicated boats. The three classes are too different to have a preference.
When you were little, you lived on a boat with your family for 8 years. One could say you were almost born for sailing! Do you feel that way?
Sam: I don’t know anything else and I’m happy doing what I’m doing. So I don’t look much further than that.
What are your plans for the immediate future? What projects can you tell us about?
Sam: At the moment I will continue racing Phaedo, which is a fantastic project, with nice people, a nice boat and some more competition this year. I’m also trying to increase my experience in multi hull sailing, so at the moment I am also sailing a F18, which is good to learn the roots of multihull sailing and big fleet inshore racing, which I have never done. The F18 is an awesome class. I will also do the Sydney-Hobart on Maserati and my hunt for sponsors continues for a project of my own.
What’s your dream race and why?
Sam: I like diversity and a challenge. At the moment I am enjoying doing a mix of events and disciplines.
Hadn’t you become a sailor, what would you have chosen as a job?
Sam: Good question….