Brits on the Solitaire

Nigel King and Artemis' Jonny Malbon discuss their Figaro prospects
It was widely recognised last year that undertaking the Vendee Globe as your first ever singlehanded offshore race is perhaps a little ambitious. And so it has come to pass that management of the Artemis shorthanded offshore racing campaign has been shifted to Offshore Challenges, who already run their Transat race with backing from the Edinburgh-based investment house. With this move has come a rejigging of the Artemis program and this has seen Jonny Malbon, who originally worked for OC as Ellen’s boat captain on her famous Kingfisher Open 60, was shifted from skippering the Artemis Open 60 and into the intensive shorthanded offshore training school that is the Figaro class. Today he and Nigel King are the sole Brits setting sail in the Figaro class’ top event, La Solitaire. “We are cocked and ready to get going,” Malbon told us last night. “The boat is in great shape. We have been almost finding jobs to do on the boat this week. It is a huge contrast in many ways to last year. I’m just looking forward to getting on with it.” While OC had their own Figaro back in the Sam Davies era when it was sponsored by Skandia, this was sold to Katie Miller, however Gilles Chiorri, who now runs the iShares Cup for them, owns a Beneteau Figaro 2 and chartered it to Artemis. The boat was chartered to Elodie Riou last year. Malbon took up Figaro sailing only in May and two to three months on setting sail with 51 other boats in this intense fleet, against many of the best solo offshore sailors France has to offer, is almost as hair raising and daunting, albeit for slightly different reasons, to his Vendee Globe venture last year. “We got the boat in May and first of all