Dee Caffari teams up with Mike Golding as tuning partner for assault on 2008 Vendee Globe 20/3/07

Dee Caffari teams up with Mike Golding as tuning partner for assault on 2008 Vendee Globe.

Caffari who last year set the record for becoming the first women to sail in a westabout direction, solo, non-stop around the world, announced her plans for a Vendee Globe campaign earlier this year see previous news story here. Aviva also confirmed their continued financial support allowing Caffari to plan a brand-new Open 60.

At today’s press event Caffari has announced that she will be teaming up with Mike Golding to form a technical alliance. This means that the two British teams – Aviva and Ecover – will develop and test their boats alongside each other in preparation of the Vendee Globe which starts on 8 November next year.

The sharing of data during the boat design/build process means the teams will be able to produce two near identical Owen Clark designs allowing Golding and Caffari not only improve the performance of their respective boats, but also give themselves a psychological advantage over many of their rivals who will not have such a structured development programme.

Although Caffari is new to the Open 60 class and will face a steep learning curve there is no doubt that she will benefit greatly from the valuable experience of Golding – one of Britain’s most successful singlehanded ocean.

Chatting about Golding’s input Caffari told “For me it’s very logical to have an alliance with someone with the intellect and experience of Mike. It really does accelerate the Aviva Racing learning curve and the decision making process to build a new boat. It’s a massive step for Mike to make to share information but the potential for the data we can collect with optimising performance with the two boats together will be really powerful, I think that’s where the exciting bit really comes.

“The acceleration of getting a competitive boat in the shortest amount of time possible is crucial because the one thing I can’t do is buy time. For me now, I’m at the stage where I can keep saying to Mike ‘why?’ I’m going to be that petulant child but actually it’s making him justify all his decisions again so it’s great for him as well.”

While it’s unusual for rival teams to divulge crucial team information and data, Golding, whose aim is to win the next Vendee Globe, sees the alliance as an opportunity to benefit both teams. Caffari and Golding’s relationship goes back eight years when Golding gave Caffari her first job in professional sailing so, the new alliance is formed as much on trust as it is on the will to succeed. Caffari added: “In May 2000 he agreed to take me on as a little whippersnapper so we know each other very well. This alliance needed to be comfortable for both of us and to have a history as well brings a really nice synergy to the whole thing and I think that’s what helped give it a bit more depth.”

Golding says that one of the most important elements of the alliance will be the structured two-boat testing schedule which will ensure the boats’ optimum performance. Chatting to this morning Golding said: “There are so many benefits to this new alliance it’s hard to know where to stop. Although divulging information to other teams is alien to us I think we’ve all got to learn there is a better way forward.

“Although there are many subtle benefits in this alliance there is no doubt that the period where we’ll be learning the fastest will be when the two boats hit the water. The boats are all but identical which will a real benefit not only from a sailing point of view but from a design point of view too. Dee will make different choices on internal layout but things that are performance-related, structural elements and key performance related elements will be the same.”