Transat AG2R La Mondiale - Young Brits take on top talent

Artemis 23 race towards 3rd position nearing the second mark - Transat AG2R La Mondiale 2012
The 11th edition of the Transat AG2R La Mondiale is now underway and at 13.00 CET on Saturday 21st April, Artemis Offshore Academy sailors Sam Goodchild and Nick Cherry set off on the 3890nm race across the Atlantic; from Concarneau to Saint Barthelemy. Flying the flag for Great Britain and the youngest crew in the fleet, Sam and Nick are taking on the some of the finest competitors in the Beneteau Figaro 2 class.

After a final weather briefing, the sailors headed down to the docks for the last time: 'We’ve just rigged the boat for windy conditions. Conditions at the moment are clear skies, sunshine and the forecasted 20 knots of wind, so similar conditions to the prologue.'

At 11.00am CET, the 16 Figaros said their final emotional goodbyes, and headed out of the harbour one by one to the applause of a growing crowd of spectators who provided a great atmosphere and added to the emotion of the departure.

The fleet crossed the start line at 13.00 CET, with Goodchild and Cherry setting off in great shape. Artemis 23 made a great start as Artemis Offshore Academy performance director, John Thorn details:

Artemis 23 Skippers, Nick Cherry and Sam Goodchild - Transat AG2R La Mondiale 2012
© Alexis Courcoux
'The race started with a chilly North Westerly wind of around 15 knots, (gusting up to 25 in the rain squalls) Conditions were sunny, with patches of heavy rain. The spectator boats have turned out in force off Concarneau churning up the sea, and cheering on the double handed sailors as they head out to open ocean. Sam and Nick set of in great spirits buoyed on by a good first leg and rounded the first windward mark in fourth position. Nearing the next mark, Artemis 23 is creeping into third. As usual for a race start in France, there are masses of spectator boats, creating rough and confused waves making it a very difficult race start, especially for the boats towards the back of the fleet.'

Prior to the race, Goodchild reported: 'I’m feeling good, looking forward to getting out there after months of preparation. We have fairly bad weather predicted for the next three days, so I’m looking forward to getting through that and eventually seeing the Caribbean on the horizon.'

To which Cherry added: 'Conditions from tomorrow (Sunday) are looking pretty heinous, with strong winds and rough seas.' Weather conditions are set to take a turn for the worse with rain, big waves and winds of up to 50 knots setting in off Cape Finistère, a point on the course notoriously difficult at the best of times.

Nick Cherry and Sam Goodchild on board Artemis 23 - Transat AG2R La Mondiale 2012
These conditions are expected to moderate somewhat by the time the fleet arrived there on Monday. After which the course turns South from Cape Finistère and heads off towards a virtual turning mark near the Canary Islands; the temperatures will increase and as the wind turns and comes from behind, the downwind spinnaker conditions should make for much more comfortable sailing.

La Transat AG2R La Mondiale is famous for its varying and challenging weather conditions and the claustrophobic living conditions will only add to the pressure. After leaving Concarneau at 13.00 CET on Saturday 21st April, the fleet hope to cross the Atlantic in 23-25 days.

Artemis Offshore Academy website