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Pep Costa and Will Harris start Sardhina Cup on Cybele Vacations-Team Play to Be

by Andi Robertson 7 Apr 18:26 BST 7 April 2021

Taking on his first ever race in the Figaro Beneteau class over the coming days, 21 year old Barcelona skipper Pip Costa has partnered with the experienced British Will Harris, 26, as co-skipper for the Sardinha Cup which started this afternoon off the Vendée town of Saint-Gilles-Croix-de-Vie.

Like others in the 21 strong fleet, the duo are preparing for next month's Transat en Double Concarneau-Saint Barthelemy which will be the first Transat yet for the Figaro Beneteau 3 class.

After finishing eighth in the 2019 Mini Transat as Costa embarks on the next chapter of his solo and short-handed ocean racing career, he has chosen to pair up with Harris, the English skipper who has proven himself one of the best international racers on the circuit as top rookie in 2016 and finishing 22nd on the 2019 race, the first in the new Figaro Beneteau 3.

The first offshore race of the two courses which form the Sardinha Cup is the Trophée Naomis which started at 1600hrs local time today, a 300 miles race down and back to the Bay of Arcachon followed by a passage round the Ile d'Yeu. The started in 10-12kts of chilly NNW'ly breeze with bright skies. The wind is due to swing to the ESE making the course south to Arcachon - the bay south of Bordeaux - very much a straight line drag race. This race should finish in the early hours of Friday morning.

Both the Spanish and English skippers share a dream of competing on the Vendée Globe in the coming years and for Costa, who came to solo offshore racing after a successful youth career in the 29er, the Figaro fleet is the best learning arena. He supported Catalan skipper Didac Costa (no relation) in the lead up to and after the last Vendée Globe where Will Harris sails and works with Boris Herrmann and Team Malizia.

"This class is where the best ocean racing sailors are and it is great to be able to be here and race and train with them. I am very aware of how far I have to go on this journey but I want to take it step by step and miss nothing. I am still young and I love doing this. This is a class I like, a boat I like and it is just magical to be here." Costa told the Sardinha Cup's media team before the start today.

Costa has one month of training under belt and since then the duo had an intensive week together before today's to start.

"This is a really full on race, very challenging indeed because this two 300 mile course is then followed by a five day one and by the end this we will be pretty tired in terms of building up to the two handed Transat but there is no better way to be training and double handed does make it that little bit easier." Said Harris, "And the thing is we have not yet lined up against another Figaro and so this will be a great chance to learn and see where we are at. It will be a good test." "We found our sponsor Cebelle Vacances just a couple of months ago, as Didac was finishing the Vendée and that was when I knew I could do the Figaro and then we have planned the whole season. To be able to the Transat with Will is amazing." Said Costa.

Costa sailed in the 29er class from 2017 to 2018 and was twice in the Top 10 at the world championships and then for three years he studied Engineering Physics and Mathematics in Fordham University, New York at the same time as campaigning in the Mini class for the Mini Transat. He had planned to do the whole 2020 Figaro season.

"Personally my aim over the coming days is to learn as much as I can about the boat and from Will to be getting into the Transat dynamic, to be able to full on all the time and to be able to be just a little more relaxed and able to focus better when we are on the Transat." Concluded Costa.

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