Offshore Selection Races Begin in the Artemis Offshore Academy

Offshore Selection Races Begin in the Artemis Offshore Academy

Monday February 28 2011 Author: philsharp Location: none selected

Well the first two months of Figaro training down here in La Grande Motte, south of France, have simply flown by, with the CEM solo offshore training centre proving to be a really exciting challenge. Despite nearby city of Montpellier being full of character and thriving with life throughout the year, La Grande Motte is solely a summer seaside holiday resort and lacks any charm whatsoever. Throughout the winter it is generally a ghost town, with traffic lights being completely unnecessary, but with minimal distractions it is actually an ideal place for a winter training camp.

The centre is situated in an ideal location right on the beachfront, next to the marina where the boats are berthed, and only 2 minutes walk from a boulangerie so my diet is largely made up of bread, croissant and coffee. The programme so far has been well structured and it has been very productive to train with some experienced French Figaro sailors as well as the other members of the GB Artemis Offshore Academy squad. Despite coming from quite different sailing backgrounds all of the squad seem to be up there on the pace. Currently we have a training fleet comprising of the four British Artemis boats and 6-7 French boats, with an additional 3-4 French boats expected in the water next month.

Typically the mornings kick off with exercise. We have pool sessions three times a week, which is great for general aerobic fitness, particularly when having to get out and do press-ups every four lengths. However, I am not sure about the exercises for underwater swimming, as this feels more akin to drowning! Afterwards we usually meet at the centre for a weather briefing, normally followed by a racing debrief of the previous day. This is where we compare boat set-ups, routing and strategy, possibly along with some video and photos as boat handling or tuning references. Solo sailing then usually takes place in the afternoon with the start and end of the week focussing on short races, whilst mid-week we are competing offshore on 24hr courses. These offshore races so early on in the season are not only invaluable training for the Solitaire du Figaro, but also importantly form the backbone to the Artemis Offshore Academy selection programme. So the pressure is firmly on!

There are now four Brits in the running for the one scholarship place; myself, Nick Cherry, Simon Hiscocks, and Sam Goodchild, and we have just finished the second of the offshore races. All in all things have gone well in both, and it has actually been really enjoyable to be back in a competitive offshore environment. The first race turned out to be a light wind coastal course where I was pleased to finish in 2nd place, just two minutes behind Jean-Pierre Nicol, who picked up a 3rd place in one of the Solitaire du Figaro legs last year. The second race took us some 40 miles offshore, where tactics played much more of a role in order to take advantage of the changeable wind patterns in the Med. After rounding the offshore mark in 4th place, I had an exciting last leg chasing down Nick Cherry for the final 10 miles, who gained a good advantage earlier on. In the end he managed to hold me off and pipped me to 2nd place by only a matter of seconds. We both finished less than 10 minutes behind the winner Christopher Pratt, an experienced French Figariste, so it’s pleasing to be up there in touch with some fast guys at such an early stage.

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Following a short break, we begin the final three weeks of the selection process next Monday, in which we have a 48 hr offshore race each week as well as short-course inshore races. I'll be taking all my clothes as the Med is far from warm at the moment. 

More to follow shortly,



© Rupert Holmes


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