Artemis Offshore Academy decamps to France
Since trucking three of the Artemis Offshore Academy Figaros 864 miles from the UK to France, 2013 Development Squad sailors Jack Bouttell and Mark Andrews have been reunited with their boats and are settling into their new home in La Grande Motte, France. Third full-time Academy Figarist Ed Hill, along with graduate sailors Nick Cherry and Henry Bomby, will join Andrews and Bouttell at the Centre d’Entrainement Méditerranée (CEM), an elite Figaro training centre in La Grande Motte on the Mediterranean coast, for the start of the winter training programme on Monday 10 December.
The impressive Artemis branded convoy set off from Bladerunner, Southampton on 28 November, sailing via ferry from Portsmouth, UK to St Malo, France, before hitting the long road down south to La Grande Motte, with Academy Operations and Logistics Manager Phil Johnston and Bouttell in tow.
Now the boats and sailors are based in La Grande Motte, Andrews and Bouttell, with the help of Johnston and Academy Performance Director John Thorn, are busy smoothing out any kinks in the Figaros set-up after taking them for their first test sail on Wednesday 5th December; a big day for the sailors as Bouttell explained: “I was excited to get out on the water as it was the first time I would actually get to sail 77 after spending the past month working on the boat.“
Bouttell, who prior to the Academy has worked on yachts with well known racing teams GAC Pindar, Hugo Boss and most recently Tonnerre de Breskens, now hopes to have his own Figaro Bénéteau II in perfect racing order for the 2013 season: “I enjoy the boat work side of things anyway, but it makes it all the more rewarding that I am preparing my own boat for racing. Going out for my maiden voyage on 77, really makes it all worthwhile. Being responsible for the sailing and preparation of the boat is pretty full on, especially as the first race, the Icom Cup, is now only three months away, but I now know 77 inside out.”
“Winter training preparations are progressing well here in La Grande Motte” reported Academy Performance Director Thorn. “The first on water shakedown session has been completed and the guys can now begin to focus on their first two weeks of training here in La Grande Motte. CEM training in December is traditionally focused on double-handed practice before the skippers go solo in the new year, offering an opportunity to share thoughts and ideas with other Figaro sailors and also to do some self-coaching which is very valuable. Initial training is predominantly on water, but with a morning fitness session first.”
Team GBR Finn sailor turned Academy Figarist, Andrews commented, “It will be good to start training with the French, as they really know what they are doing in this field and it will give us a bit more of a bench mark of where and how good we need to be.”
Hill, currently competing in his last crewed regatta of the year in Asia, will join the squad for the first day of training at the CEM training centre on 10 December and is “looking forward to getting to France and dedicating my time fully to the Figaro.” Solo offshore sailing is a discipline that demands total dedication, preparation and experience. Academy sailors starting out on the Figaro circuit have only months to learn what the best in the class have picked up through years of racing. It is vital that Hill, Bouttell and Andrews make every training day count if they are to be true competitors in the 2013.
“I can’t believe that we are already nearly in December and the Solitaire du Figaro is only six months away,” continued Hill. “Looking at my calendar and working back from the Solitaire, it became apparent just how critical it is for me to make the most of every minute training in the Figaro if am to be successful and ready for the race in June.”
Joining the squad for the first two weeks of training will be Artemis Offshore Academy graduates Cherry and Bomby, both of whom trained at the CEM before competing in the 2012 Solitaire du Figaro.
“For the first two weeks of the training programme the guys will sail double-handed, mainly working on their boat maneuvers and speed,” said Bomby. “Nick and I are heading down as co-skippers for the solo skippers, as well as it being a great early opportunity for us to get training before the 2013 season really kicks in. I haven’t met all of the new Academy squad yet, so it will be nice to do that and catch up with the French sailors I sailed alongside in the Solitaire.”
Both Bomby and Cherry are now working on developing their own solo Figaro campaigns, with an aim to start training in January 2013, in preparation for the Solitaire du Figaro on the 2nd June.
As well as the Artemis graduates, the 2013 Academy Figarists will train alongside new kid on the block, Irish Figaro sailor and Solitaire du Figaro competitor David Kenefick, experienced Figaro sailors Jean-Pierre Nicol, Xavier Macaire, Christopher Pratt, Gwenael Gbick and 2012/13 Vendée Globe skipper Kito de Pavant after he was forced to retire from the early stages of the race due to a collision with a fishing trawler.
Bouttell, Andrews and Hill will now spend the next three months in intensive training both on and off the water, in preparation for their first solo offshore Figaro race of the season, the ICOM Cup Méditerranée, taking place over 6-12 March in Marseille, France.