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Artemis Offshore Academy Selection Trials complete

Up and coming Figaro potential put through their paces

Monday September 17th 2012, Author: Carolyn Lashmar, Location: United Kingdom

16 candidates from around the UK were selected to attend the Artemis Offshore Academy Selection Trials held over 9-14 September.

Divided into two groups of 8, 12 men and 4 women – ranging in age from 19 year-old RYA Youth National Champion Hugh Brayshaw from Dorset to the oldest 29 year-old Scott Millar from London.

The candidates were all tested to the limit over 52-hours of grueling mental and physical activities. All rose to the challenges, some were overwhelmed but they all shared one thing in common at the end – complete exhaustion, combined with relief and elation at having made it to the finish; not to dissimilar from the emotions solo circumnavigators experience when they cross the finish line! Although the trial was kept secret until the first group had completed the tests so as not to give the second group an advantage, Candidate’s supporters and sailing fans were able to share the experience via the live blog. The ‘Virtual Vendée Globe’ forms the centerpiece of the Trials with the aim of accumulating at least 24,840 ‘miles’ through completing a varied array of challenges – each candidate had to earn their miles through both physical and mental challenges working individually or in teams – none were easily earned.

“The 2012 Artemis Offshore Academy Selection Trials have actually been even tougher than last year’s edition. Candidates are tested to their limits, we’ve made them very tired, physically and mentally exhausted. The Selection Trials really do give candidates an insight into what it’s like out there, sailing on your own. In solo sailing you have to be a jack-of-all-trades and try to master as many of those trades as you can, and this is what we have tried to explain whilst assessing whether the candidates display potential,” reported Dee Caffari who joined the interview panel led by Academy Performance Director, John Thorn.

The first challenge was to meet at a set waypoint, which took them to Graham Robb Associates Corporate Outdoor Learning Centre. Candidates had an introduction to the Artemis Offshore Academy and a discussion led by Chartered Sports Psychologist, Ian Brown, on solo sailing psychology and the crucial ‘mental toughness’ required to go it alone, which world renowned offshore sailors like Michel Desjoyeaux and Dame Ellen McArthur know only too well. A hard-core fitness test followed before the candidates moved on to a series of high rope activities, which included a simulated ‘mast’ climb using only ascenders, the tools used to climb a halyard at sea. “Single handed offshore sailors require physical qualities in strength, aerobic endurance, power and flexibility. The aim of the tests is to push each candidate to their physical limit. All candidates performed well in these tests with a number showing particularly great potential,” explained exercise physiologist, Paul Wallis.

Then the action moved on to Poole at the Royal National Lifeboat Institution training headquarters, where the candidates spent two hours in the ‘environmental’ pool, which is as ‘real-life’ as it can get in created storm-force conditions. The simulation concluded with a dramatic ‘helicopter rescue’: “The atmosphere was exciting and terrifying!” reported Catherine Jordan who was airlifted from the liferaft in a howling gale with lightning and pelting rain. “We had a good huddle in the liferaft and tried to keep morale high.”

The candidates had already completed over 24-hours of tests with just one hours sleep before they were even given the opportunity to showcase their sailing skills in the Artemis Figaro boats, completing both double-handed and solo races during a full day on the water at the 2012 Olympic Sailing venue – Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy: “After a punishing 24-hours prior to sailing the candidates were feeling the effects of sleep deprivation and exhaustion before they went out on the water. This meant that the sailing was much more testing for the candidates and there were three or four that really stood out for me. I am looking forward to seeing who will be selected,” said Matt Howard, GBR Finn coach. “Comparing these trials to other trials that I have attended, I think the sheer levels of exhaustion involved in solo sailing has made the Artemis Offshore Academy Selection Trials a very different experience,” said Scott Millar.

Sailing solo was a wake up call for many: “I ended up just making a load of stupid mistakes on things you’d do normally without thinking. You’re tired, but at the same time you’re so worried about the ballast being full and thinking, ‘how am I going to tack the jib?’ that you just forget the simple stuff,” said world-class Olympic Finn sailor and Ben Ainslie’s training partner, Mark Andrews.

“It’s been a great experience… I’ve taken a lot away from it and I’ve put quite a lot into it too. Winning the Virtual Vendée Globe was a nice little cherry on the top at the end of the three days,” said a delighted Jack Bouttell, who accumulated the most miles in the Virtual Vendée Globe.

“There is no target intake number for the 2013 Development Squad, if the Artemis Offshore Academy believes a candidate has shown the promise needed, we will try to help them achieve their goals” explained Thorn. The next Development Squad, to follow in the footsteps of past successful candidates like Sam Goodchild and Nick Cherry, will be announced in the coming weeks.

Group 1 – 9th – 12th September

Charlotte Lawrence, 25, Southampton

Mark Andrews, 26, Inverclyde
Luke Dampier, 22, Surrey

Olivier Vidal, 28, London
Ed Hill, 29, Southampton
Emma Pearson, 20, Warwick
Dyfrig Mon, 24, West Glamorgan
Jack Bouttell, 21, Southampton

Group 1 Virtual Vendée Globe Results
Position/Name/Age/Number of miles earned

1st Jack Bouttell, 21 / 32643
2nd Mark Andrews, 26 / 31690
3rd Dyfrig Mon, 24 / 30444
4th Ed Hill, 29 / 29990
5th Charlotte Lawrence, 25 / 28070
6th Luke Dampier, 22 / 26300
7th Emma Pearson, 20 / 24400
8th Olivier Vidal, 28 / 16600

Group 1 Double-handed Race Results
Position/Name/Race result double–handed

1st Olivier Vidal & Ed Hill / 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st
2nd Jack Bouttell & Dyfrig Mon / 2nd, 2nd 3rd, 3rd
2nd Mark Andrews & Charlotte Lawrence / 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, 2nd
4th Luke Dampier & Emma Pearson / 4th, 4th, 4th, 4th

Group 1 Solo Race Results
Position/Name/Age/Race result solo

1st Ed Hill, 29 / 1st, 1st
1st Mark Andrews, 26 / 1st, 1st
3rd Jack Bouttell, 21 / 2nd, 2nd
3rd Dyfrig Mon, 24 / 2nd, 2nd
5th Olivier Vidal, 28 / 3rd, 3rd
6th Luke Dampier, 22 / 3rd, 4th
6th Charlotte Lawrence, 25 / 4th, 3rd
8th Emma Pearson, 20 / 4th 4th

Group 2 – 12th – 14th September
Thomas Barker, 26, Berkshire
Hugh Brayshaw, 18, Dorset
Conrad Manning, 19, Southampton
Catherine Jordan, 22, Southampton
Scott Millar, 29, London
Ludo Bennett-Jones, 21, Oxford
Alex Gardner, 22, Southampton
Nikki Curwen, 23, Bournemouth

Group 2 Virtual Vendée Globe Results

1st Conrad Manning, 19 / 30590
2nd Scott Millar, 29 / 28830
3rd Hugh Brayshaw, 19 / 26567
4th Alex Gardner, 22 / 25090
5th Catherine Jordan, 22 / 24670
6th Nikki Curwen, 23 / 24140
7th Thomas Barker, 26 / 19560
8th Ludo Bennett – Jones, 21 / 16578

Group 2 Double-handed Race Results
Position/Name/Race result double–handed

1st Nikki Curwen & Scott Millar / 3rd, 1st 1st, 1st
2nd Conrad Manning & Hugh Brayshaw / 2nd, 2nd, 3rd, 2nd
2nd Alex Gardner & Ludo Bennett – Jones / 1st, 4th, 2nd, 3rd
4th Catherine Jordan & Thomas Barker / 4th, 3rd, 4th, 4th

Group 2 Solo Race Results
Position/Name/Age/Race result solo

1st Nikki Curwen, 23 / 2nd, 1st
1st Conrad Manning, 19 / 1st, 2nd
1st Alex Gardner, 22 / 1st, 2nd
4th Scott Millar, 29 / 3rd, 1st
5th Thomas Barker, 26 / 2nd, 3rd
6th Catherine Jordan, 22 / 3rd, 3rd
7th Hugh Brayshaw, 19 / 4th, 4th
8th Ludo Bennett – Jones, 21 / DNF, 4th

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