Mark Lloyd / Artemis Offshore Academy

Artemis Offshore Academy in 2012

Three boats in La Solitaire du Figaro but the young Figaro and Mini sailors go transatlantic

Wednesday January 11th 2012, Author: Carolyn Lashmar, Location: United Kingdom

The Artemis Offshore Academy has announced its 2012 race schedule at the Musto stand at the Tullett Prebon London Boat Show.

This year the British shorthanded academy will continue to enable sailors to compete in the highly competitive world of shorthanded racing with over 80 days of competition around Europe. The Squad will compete on both the Figaro and Mini circuits including participation in the month long La Solitaire du Figaro and the Mini class' Les Sables-Azores-Les Sables being the highlight for the classes respectively.

“The 2012 Artemis Offshore Academy race programme is an integral part of our long term training goals” said Artemis Offshore Academy Performance Director John Thorn. “It enables our new squad members and our second year squad members to not only put into practice what they have been covering in training so far but also to gauge their progress against the more experienced sailors and the very best of the Figaro fleet. The early season Figaro Class races will also enable us to determine performance for who will join Sam Goodchild and Nick Cherry as a third Artemis skipper in this years Solitaire du Figaro.”

The prestigious one-design Class Figaro Beneteau circuit including the Solitaire du Figaro attracts the world’s best solo sailors time and time again as it provides the perfect training ground to hone their skills in pursuit of solo excellence. The 2011 Solitaire du Figaro winner Jeremie Beyou has competed in this prestigious race 12 times, winning on three occasions, demonstrating the high level of returning competition in this class and the skill it requires to win it.

This year the Solitaire du Figaro has moved from its regular August slot to 16 June-15 July so as not to clash with the London 2012 Olympics. In 2011 there were four Artemis Offshore Academy sailors on the start line with Sam Goodchild as the sole Artemis scholarship campaign. The other three sailors, Phil Sharp, Nigel King and Conrad Humphreys, had their own campaigns but worked with the Academy alongside their own sponsors. For 2012 the Artemis Offshore Academy will be able to give three sailors the chance to race in the Solitaire du Figaro including Sam Goodchild, Nick Cherry and one place that is still available to a member of the Development Squad.

“I can’t wait to get back into training my Figaro for circuit this year, particularly to compete in another Solitaire du Figaro,” said Goodchild. “The Solitaire is a unique race against some of the best short-handed sailors in the world and I have so much to learn from them and there is no better class to be sailing in to improve my offshore sailing skills.”

Goodchild had an impressive year in 2011 competing in the Figaro circuit where he displayed his natural sailing ability with some early season podium finishes – unsurprising after growing up on a boat, sailing is second nature to him. He then went on to finish in 34th position overall and 7th in the ‘Rookie’ division in the Solitaire du Figaro. Once the Figaro circuit was completed Goodchild went on to race in the Transat Jacques Vabre on the Class 40 Concise. After a week at sea Goodchild and co-skipper Ned Collier Wakefield were holding second just a few miles from the leaders when they were forced to retire due to hull damage after the exceptionally rough Atlantic conditions experienced in the early part of the race. But this disappointment opened up another opportunity, enabling Goodchild to accept a last minute chance to co-skipper another Class 40 with New Zealander Conrad Coleman in leg two of the Global Ocean Race from Cape Town to Wellington. The youngest duo in the race managed to win by over 35 hours.

Nick Cherry a fellow graduate sailor who joined the inaugural Artemis Offshore Academy Development Squad in late 2010 will also race on the Figaro circuit for 2012 including La Solitaire du Figaro. He will qualify for the ‘bizuth/rookie’ division of La Solitaire this year, specifically for sailors for whom this is their first race.

Phil Sharp secured the best ever British position of the modern era finishing in 18th place and third Rookie last year. “Being in the position at this stage in the season where I know I am doing the Solitaire at the end of June is incredibly motivating,” explained Cherry. “Having the chance to plan all my training and boat preparation well in advance means there are no excuses for not performing to my very best! I really hope I can do the Artemis Offshore Academy proud, I’m realistic about the quality of the cometition, getting into the top ½ of the fleet would be a big achievement, I’m hoping to be amongst the leading rookies.”

Cherry and Goodchild will also be competing in the doublehanded AG2R La Mondiale. This transatlantic Figaro race starts from Concarneau, France on 21 April finishing about three weeks later at the Caribbean island of St Barts. This Figaro race will see Cherry and Goodchild racing against the favorites of the 2012 Solitaire du Figaro fleet, and provide the duo with an excellent opportunity to sharpen their skills in the open ocean.

Meanwhile in the Mini, Becky Scott will be competing in the Les Sables-Azores-Les Sables: “2012 is going to be a really exciting year, the highlight for me will be the Class Mini Azores race, a 2600 mile 2 leg race departing from Les Sables on 29 July” explained Scott. “I will start my season off training in the solent with a new UK Mini Training group set up with the support of the Artemis Offshore Academy. I will then take part in the UK Class Mini Races before heading over to France to do some more training and racing while testing myself against the French sailors before the start of the Azores Race.”

The Artemis Offshore Academy got straight back into training mode after the Christmas break with training from Olympic and America’s Cup physiologist Pete Cunningham, solo sailing psychologist Neil Western and ex-America’s Cup and British Olympic meteorologist Fiona Campbell.

Aaron Cooper reported: “I am really looking forward to getting back to training on the preparation for the Solo Les Sables, my first solo race. Over the next couple of months I will be working on my practical training as well as training hard to improve my fitness and meteorology knowledge and working towards my Yachtmaster certificate. The season’s opener the Solo Les Sables in March will give me my first opportunity to put everything I have learnt into practice since joining the Artemis Offshore Academy and test myself against my fellow Academy sailors and the experienced French Figaro fleet”.

The Artemis Offshore Academy sailors will now be training in both the UK and France until their first race, the Solo Les Sables which starts on 11 March.

See the Channel 4 documentary about the entry into the Artemis Offshore Academy: 

 

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