“We really just have a very few small things to do just now before we go, a little catch up here and there and then a little final tuning from time to time, but really I am ready to go now. The boat is ready and I am ready.” Says Sanso who knows exactly what to expect in Les Sables d’Olonne over coming weeks, having participated in the 2000 race. Then he had to retire, but he says that ever since he had to stop he has wanted to be back again.
He is back with a well funded programme and the newest boat in the fleet. In itself that brings some challenges, building in reliability in a shorter space of time, but Sanso is a vastly experienced sailor who includes a great fourth place in the first edition of the Barcelona World Race on his resume, two handed around the world aboard Mutua Madrileña with his good friend Pachi Rivero.
“We did a thorough refit in June and July but since then have done a good 3,500 miles in the Atlantic of hard sailing. We had some problems initially with the systems, but we have changed a few things and worked hard and I am very happy with where we are now. The polars have increased and I am sailing the boat much better.”
Sanso took part in the Europa Warm’Up race earlier in the summer, as his first serious ocean race with the boat:
“It was good, but tough to find out where we really were. Up against six of the best boats and skippers in the fleet in true, hard racing conditions it was always going to be hard. We were not really looking for a position, but knowing the next racing I would be doing would be the Vendée Globe and we were racing in full Vendée Globe mode – with no diesel – our main aim was to learn. We made some modifications afterward.”
“Since September we have been getting our new sails. We recognised we had a hole in the inventory in light winds and so we have a bigger Code Zero and that has proven a good move, so we are on target there. We have gone for a more versatile cut on the A2.5 (gennaker) which makes it a more versatile sail. And other than that we learned from that race that pilot arms were badly engineered and so we have replaced them.”
“Physically I am in good shape. I’ve always done a lot of sport, going to the gym every day, biking and running. I’ve been doing a little more, but also to be honest the boat has been taking up so much time. But once you are going after the first week you are vey much race fit anyway.”
“I feel the pressure, sure. There is a lot of pressure. There is the simple pressure to finish with an experimental boat which is 100% Eco powered, the pressure is different, bus mostly you just want to sail a good race.”
“I am a much more different sailor and person since 11 years ago. I have raced on very many different boats and learned all the technical works. This is world which is an entirely different dimension to before. Then there was not a lot of money but it was a good experience. Now I have been to the Southern Ocean. I have wanted to be in the 2004 and 2008 races but couldn’t get the support. But really as soon as the rudder failed last time I have pledged that I want to be back.”
“I am really looking forwards to be in Les Sables d’Olonne. I will have my wife and my kid there from Thursday. We have been working so hard as team for so long I am hoping that we will all be able to now enjoy the build up together. The last three years have been hard on everyone, working weekends, pulling all-nighters every so often. So now I hope we can be there together and get some time to enjoy it.”
Among the tools which Sanso and his team have developed, working in his meteo coaching with Roger Nilsson, is a software application which automatically downloads and stores his optimised weather information:
“It saves wasting time going around and collecting all the information you are going to need to have the best meteo. It is a little thing but a big help.”