Sam Goodchild targets success for Team Plymouth in next month’s Figaro Race

The Vendee Globe solo race is the young man's dream

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The Vendée Globe solo round the world race is the goal of 24-year old Sam Goodchild but horizons yesterday were limited to the Figaro Solo race which starts next month.

But the horizons for the city of Sir Francis Drake and the Pilgrim Fathers, whose colours he will carry, are being expanded worldwide in a five to 10-year bid to become one of Britain’s major sailing centres. The south-west’s hub for the Royal Navy, ferry services, and a fishing fleet hosted an America’s Cup warm-up regatta in 2011, the Route des Princes tour of Europe in 2013, and welcomes the Figaro on 11 June. It hopes to see a restructured Route des Princes return in 2015 and in 2020 returning to a major singlehanded transatlantic race as part of the 400 anniversary celebrations of the departure of the Pilgrim Fathers.

It is not all about sport. But it is part of public/private partnership which is about a renaissance of Plymouth and its role, through hosting major sailing events of what consortium member Paul White describes as making Plymouth the sailing equivalent of Silverstone to motor racing. It is about attracting business investment, joining with the university and business groupings, to generate a stream of events and increased awareness.

To help, Goodchild has been helped to put together his Figaro boat and campaign and he will act as an ambassador for both the city and sportsmen. He will not be alone. He will be one of eight current and past members of the Artemis sailing academy on the start line for a race which attracts the best in French solo sailing, which is seen as a major test in its own right, and recognised as a graduation process for the Vendée.

“This is a long term project,” says Amanda Lumley, chief executive of Destination Plymouth. “As part of our presentation to the Figaro we made it clear that we see that we want to see the Figaro as a regular event. Don’t forget that Plymouth is Britain’s 14 largest city.”

“This is a bright light for Plymouth,” added Paul White. “But it is also only a part of a Plymouth regeneration plan.”