Artemis Offshore Academy Development Squad announced
After being put through their paces at the grueling 52-hour Selection Trials that finished 12 days ago (read Mark Andrews' account of this here), six of this year’s 16 hopeful candidates have now been selected to join the 2013 Artemis Offshore Academy Development Squad.
The new Squad come from across the UK:
– Dyfrig Mon, 24, joins the Squad from West Glamorgan
- Jack Bouttell, the youngest new member at 21 from Southampton
- Alex Gardner, 22 from Southampton
- Ed Hill, 29, from Southampton
- Mark Andrews, 26 from Weymouth
- the sole female sailor Nikki Curwen, 23 from Bournemouth.
These six new aspiring solo sailors will line up alongside existing Squad members Robin Elsey (20,Truro, Cornwall), Lizzy Foreman (22, Worcester Park, Surrey) and Sam Matson (21, Ottery St Mary, Devon) to form the 2013 Development Squad.
The judges at the Selection Trials, which included Dee Caffari, were looking for candidates that not only demonstrated technical sailing ability but also those that demonstrated a certain amount of mental toughness.
“The 2012 Selection Trials have been the toughest yet and we are really pleased with the standard of applicants and their performance during the trials,” commented John Thorn, Artemis Offshore Academy Performance Director. “Selecting the new squad has been a really tough decision and we’ve had to say no to some really talented sailors simply due to the available resources we have. We want those selected to have the best training programme possible.”
The decision on who made the cut was made by the panel of judges and experts including former Royal Yachting Association CEO, Rod Carr, who was Field of Play Manager at the 2012 Olympics sailing venue in Weymouth. “After making the final decision we are now welcoming six great sailors from varying racing backgrounds to the 2013 Development Squad. Their training is due to start in early November at the home of the Artemis Offshore Academy in Cowes, Isle of Wight and we are very excited about the year ahead,” said Carr.
The Development Squad will continue to be split between full and part-time members. Full-time members Jack Bouttell, winner of the Virtual Vendée Globe at the Selection Trials, accomplished keelboat sailor Ed Hill and British Finn squad member and Olympic training partner to Ben Ainslie, Mark Andrews, will train in the UK and at the Centre d’Entrainement Méditerranée, La Grande Motte, France, during the winter to be ready to compete in their first solo race in spring 2013: “Joining the Development Squad will enable me to gain experience in offshore sailing and learn the skills needed to become a top offshore sailor,” commented Andrews. “It is great to have been given this chance to prove myself as an offshore sailor. We have some good sailors in the squad and it would be great to be able to play the French at their own game and win.”
The pinnacle race of the 2013 season for the majority of Squad members will be the Solitaire du Figaro and with limited places available these full-time sailors will be competing for a spot on the starting line next year.
Some of the sailors are new to offshore sailing, while some caught the bug early. For example Bouttell first raced offshore at just 15 years old and then three years later went on to skipper a Class 40 to an impressive class victory, finishing 2nd overall in the 2009 RORC Caribbean 600. He is now looking forward to going solo with the Academy: “I feel it is a really great achievement, taking on a hugely tough selection trials against very good sailors from different backgrounds and to then come out as a squad member is awesome.”
Also training full-time will be 23-year-old short-handed sailor Nikki Curwen who will be training on the Academy’s Pogo 2 Mini: “I can now follow the dream to race on the Mini circuit,” said Curwen. “Accumulating as many miles and as much experience as possible. My ultimate goal would be to qualify and get to the start of the Mini Transat in September 2013, although it will be very tough in the time scale available.” Class Mini racing is clearly in the Curwen DNA, with Nikki’s father Simon posting the best ever result by a British Sailor in the Mini-Transat, second place overall in 2001 Mini Transat.
Former British Keelboat Academy sailor Alex Gardner and GBR Laser sailor Dyfrig Mon will join the Development Squad part–time, training around their academic studies and joining current part-time squad members Sam Matson, Lizzy Foreman and Robin Elsey, who will predominantly train and compete in the UK over the winter. “For the last few years my ambition in sailing has been to go as far and as fast as I can,” explains Gardner. “I see selection into the Artemis Offshore Academy as a massive step forwards into achieving this. It is a credible platform from which to get into the world of solo offshore racing and is also a chance to further develop as a sailor.”
As well as offering intensive coaching in short-handed offshore racing, the Artemis Offshore Academy Development Squad receive training in meteorology, navigation, onboard systems, boat maintenance, sponsorship procurement, French language and fitness, that fully equip the Academy sailors for their immersion into the world of short-handed offshore racing.
The Artemis Offshore Academy Graduate sailors Sam Goodchild, Nick Cherry, Henry Bomby and Aaron Cooper are actively seeking and negotiating support for the forthcoming Figaro season. Their aim is to train on their own Figaro boats and compete in the 2013 Figaro circuit, with assistance from the Academy. Further announcements of their plans are likely in the coming weeks.
The new recruits shared their thoughts:
Ed Hill: “Joining the Artemis Offshore Academy is such a fantastic opportunity as it provides the support and coaching needed to really have a crack at the French and make an impact in the solo offshore sailing world.
“The Academy really gives a clear path and plan of how to succeed and also has the resources to help achieve these aims. It means a hell of a lot to me to have been selected for the 2013 squad, I really wanted this opportunity and I now am desperate to try and show my potential and get into solo sailing.
“My aims for the season are to firstly learn as much as possible and really push myself and secondly to compete in the Solitaire du Figaro, but not to just compete but to be competitive. I don’t want to just make up numbers but want to make an impact, whether that’s in the rookie standings or whatever, I want to repay the trust that the selectors have put in me!”
Jack Bouttell: “On gaining selection into the Artemis Offshore Academy 2013 Development Squad, I hope to further develop my sailing ability and to compete in more shorthanded events. Having been racing as part of a crew more recently, I want to now build on my shorthanded skills and become a more rounded sailor.
“ I feel that joining the Academy is a really great achievement, to have taken on a hugely tough Trial against very good sailors from different backgrounds and to come out as a squad member is awesome. I aim to take onboard everything that I am taught throughout this great training opportunity, improve on my sailing ability and finish learning French in order to perform well in the 2013 seasons warm up races and hopefully get the chance to have a crack at the Solitaire du Figaro.”
Mark Andrews: “Joining the Artemis Offshore Academy squad will enable me to gain experience in offshore sailing and learn the skills needed to become a top offshore sailor. It is great to have been given this chance to prove myself as offshore sailor and I obviously want to perform to the best of my own ability, but it would also be great for the whole squad to do well. We have some good sailors in the squad and it would be great to be able to play the French at their own game and win.”
Nikki Curwen: “The Artemis Academy is a great resource for sailors to develop their solo offshore sailing skills. Having the chance to develop my sailing ability with the support and guidance of the Academy is an unbelievable opportunity – one not to miss!
“Becoming a member of the 2013 Development Squad means everything to me, with this opportunity I can now follow the dream to race on the Mini circuit, accumulating as many miles and as much experience as possible. My ultimate goal would be to qualify and get to the start of the Mini Transat in September 2013, although it will be very tough in the time scale available.”
Alex Gardner: “For the last few years my ambition in sailing has been to “go as far and as fast as I can” and I see selection into the Artemis Offshore Academy as a massive step forwards into achieving this.
“The Academy is a credible platform from which to get into the world of solo offshore racing and is also a chance to further develop as a sailor on the training programme it has to offer.
“In terms of goals for the future, I’d like to finish the double-handed Fastnet race and in a solid position, I think realistically this could be a challenging campaign to run alongside my studies.”
Dyfrig Mon: “It’s great to have been selected for the Artemis Offshore Academy 2013 Development Squad. The Academy training and race programme being tailored around my PHD will enable me learn short-handed offshore solo sailing whilst studying.
“I’m excited to begin training in short-handed Figaro racing and will apply everything that I’ve learnt in sailing so far to this new challenge, whilst continuing to learn as much as I can and performing to the best of my ability."