Andrew Wood British Mini Transat sailor shares his views with just six days before the start 10/9/07

Andrew Wood is one of this year’s hot British contenders for the Mini Transat (Transat 6,50 Charente-Maritime/Bahia) which starts from La Rochelle, France next Sunday.

Wood, who’s been campaigning his Rogers-designed Proto Open 6,50 for three years, and competed in most of the major events leading up to the 4,200-mile Atlantic blast (see Demi Clé news story here) spoke to just as he arrived in La Rochelle – the day before the La Rochelle arrival deadline!

He may have been cutting his arrival in La Rochelle a bit thin but he admitted: “I think I work better under pressure. A bit of stress will help me look forward to a couple of days chilling out, away from the boat, before next Sunday’s start.”

Wood’s three year campaign is now reaching its climax but like most competitors who get to this stage in the event the waiting is the most difficult period. Not only are the skippers mentally prepared but their boats are as prepared as they’ll ever be too. Wood continued: “It’s a funny feeling being here at the start. You get used to doing short, coastal race and I’ve always thought the Transat is just a bigger version of one of those but I think it’s just hit me, there’s no going back. It’s quite exciting and now and all I want to do now is just get going. I can’t wait.”

The result of the time Wood has spent on the water this year and all the hard work he has put in to the preparation of his boat will, hopefully pay dividends when he sets off on Sunday. One of his best races, as far as results are concerned this year, was the Transgascogne – one of the key races in the lead-up to the Mini Transat – where he finished eighth in the first leg and 10th on the second click here for video footage. “This, I was really happy with and generally I’m very happy with the boat’s performance.”

Since that race Wood sailed back to the UK where he carried out a complete overhaul of the boat including removing the keel. Wood continued: “The keel was my biggest concern after I hit a whale last year in the Azores race. Ever since then I’ve always been a bit wary of it. I really needed to check it for stress or cracks. Fortunately everything was fine so I now feel very reassured.”

Chatting realistically about where he thinks he should finish in the Mini Transat Wood concluded: “The good thing about this race is the long legs; I seem to do better on the longer legs, I’m suited more to ocean tactics rather than coastal stuff, just because that’s what I’ve done most of. I’m an offshore sailor rather than round the cans, coastal sailor and I suppose I’m better at looking at the larger picture. Also the boat’s good at fairly heavy weather. I don’t want to jinx anything but I feel that I should be able to make the top 15. I think I would be disappointed if I wasn’t there. That’s my aim. If I can do that then I’d be happy.”

Keep an eye onyachtingworld.comfor more news from the Transat 6,50 Charente-Maritime/Bahia as it unfolds.