Foncia sets new record in Artemis Challenge
The Artemis Challenge, taking place during at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, proved to be a record breaking race around the isle of Wight for the MOD70 trimarans Foncia and Musandam-Oman Sail today. Race management yesterday made a last minute change to the sailing instructions to allow the MOD70s to race for the record, thanks to the favourable winds forecast. The two MOD70s joined two IMOCA 60s, Mike Golding's Gamesa and Artemis Ocean Racing II.
The MOD70s and IMOCA 60s were teamed up: Team one consisted of Musandam-OmanSail, skippered by Sidney Gavignet, with record setting British sailors Brian Thompson and Dee Caffari on board and Artemis Ocean Racing II, nominally skippered by Team GB members Nick Dempsey and Lucy Macgregor. Team two comprised former Vendee Globe rivals Mike Golding, on Gamesa with Team GBR Women's Match Racers Kate Macgregor and Annie Lush and Michel Desjoyeaux's Foncia sailing with Sir Robin Knox Johnson and double Olympic silver medallist Ian Walker. Zara Phillips, Olympic silver medallist was on the water to watch the racing this morning while fellow Olympic Silver medallist windsurfer, Nick Dempsey joined the crew of Artemis Ocean Racing.
Starting at 10:00 BST, it took the Michel Desjoyeaux-skippered Foncia only 2 hours, 21 minutes, 25 seconds to complete her anti-clockwise lap of the Isle of Wight, breaking the previous outright record, previously held by Steve Fossett's maxi-catamaran PlayStation by over ten minutes. Close racing between the high speed trimarans meant Musandam-OmanSail finished a mere 1 minute and 28 seconds behind their French competitor.
Foncia’s legendary skipper, double Vendee Globe winner Michel Desjoyeaux said: “That was good -the weather was sunny and also we had nice conditions with lots of wind all the way along. We had a few tacks to go to the Needles, which slowed us up, and Oman Sail was faster upwind. They tacked in front of us, but they missed their last tack so we were able to overtake, pick up speed and finish first. It’s the first time I have raced around the Isle of Wight, the first but it was a good one!”
It was also a battle up for the IMOCA 60s, with Mike Golding’s IMOCA 60 Gamesa overtaking Artemis Ocean Racing on the way back into the Solent at the Forts, finishing at 14:46:56 BST to win by just under two minutes.
The race was not only for the glory of winning and breaking records but also to raise money for worthy causes. The £12,000 prize fund charity was split this year, with the winning pair splitting £8000 and the fastest IMOCA 60 and MOD70 each winning £2000 for their charity.
Team two of Gamesa and Foncia won the team prize as well as the individual prize, giving them a total of £6000 to donate their chosen charities. Gamesa’s skipper Mike Golding has been a supporter of Save the Children charity for many years and donated his prize pot to them, while Michel Desjoyeaux donated to a charity close to his heart, cancer research charity Institut Curie.
A happy Golding said: “It has gone very well today, Foncia getting the record, and as a team we have raised £12,000 for charity. That’s a good day on the water!
“The conditions were testing, with a moderate 20 plus knot breeze at times and it was very gusty and slightly shifty, so all the trimmers had to be on their toes. It was hard work for the guys as a race. Thankfully it was quite mild as everyone got very wet at the back of the island. Artemis put on a strong fight, and we swapped the lead several times: they had us a bit worried at times! But by the end, we had a couple of minutes lead, which is all we needed to ensure we had a team win.
“It was great to have the Team GB Match Race girls, Annie Lush and Kate MacGregor onboard – they were great, trimming the spinnakers and calling the breeze. They have had so much pressure on them from the Olympics, so hopefully today, we gave them a bit of a rest and not have too responsibility on them!"
Photos from Mark Lloyd/Artemis Challenge