Goss heads for Guadeloupe on the Route du Rhum

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The Independent Online

Cups of tea provide the inspiration for one of Britain ’s most genial ocean racers, Pete Goss, as he returns to the international scene in the Route du Rhum, which starts tomorrow.

Goss, approaching his 49th birthday, leaves St. Malo for Guadeloupe with a renewed appetite for solo racing and a broad grin all over his face. “It’s really exciting,” he says as, further encouraged by autumn sunshine, ever-increasing crowds gum up the Brittany port. “I’ve never done the RdR before and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.”

He has been invited to race Tony Lawson’s Class 40, Concise, which, under its regular youth crew, won its class in the recent SevenStar Round Britain and Ireland Race.

It was over a cup of tea at home, just, and importantly just, on the Cornish side of the River Tamar, that Goss sat down with an old friend and near neighbour, David Morley Summers, who used his initials when founding Disc Management Services. The boat is called DMS for the RdR.

Summers has decided that one of his company’s aims should be to use all recyclable, non-plastic packaging, to mount a crusade against plastics pollution of the world’s oceans, and to sponsor his old friend in this race.

The use of cartoon impact to put the message across shouts loud from the sails and the slogan is a simple play on words – pack it in.

“All this came out of the blue,” says Goss. “It wasn’t in my mind when I was planning 2010 but it’s lovely to be back with my first love of singlehanded sailing. This is the first in 14 years. Yeah, it’s great. The Class 40 is great, it’s really found a spot and there is a really nice atmosphere into which I have parachuted.”

He has been “bowled over” by the scale of the event and been pleased to be joined in the last week by another Brit, Richard Tolkien. Both know that, with 44 in their class, forming more than half of the 86 in total, even being in the top third will be a small triumph.

So, says, Goss, “Who could want more? Sailing to rum punches, white sand beaches and sunshine.” Well, Pete Goss could want more.

“We’re as ready as we’ll ever be,” he says. “I’m going to give it my best shot and do a really good job on this race, as well as helping the Concise campaign.

“But, although I have no plans beyond the RdR at the moment, I have fallen in love with the new breed of Open 60s and I have always had a hankering to do another Vendee Globe singlehanded non-stop round the world race.”

It was after the one he did in 1996-97 that Goss was invited to the Elysee palace by then President Jacques Chirac to receive the Legion d’Honneur award for rescuing Raphael Dinelli from his capsized yacht in the Southern Ocean. Dinelli took time to come and renew the acquaintance in St. Malo this week.

“I need to give it some thought, because the Vendee is two races, the first to the start line, the second to the finish,” he says with a look in his eyes that can alarm wives who do not want to be grass widows. “So, after the rum punch, I’ll sit down with a cup of tea.”

With little time for tea, an Anglo-French partnership is beavering away in Normany building their own Class 40. Miranda Merron and Halvard Mabire are working towards the Global Ocean Race with a work-up programme which includes the Normany Channel Race and the Les Sable d’Olonne to the Azores and back.

Echoing Pete Goss’s thought on the VG, they are also having to work hard to raise the finance through sponsorship, but they have a hull and deck and the boat is being finished in Mabire’s Normandy yard.