Mark Lloyd / Artemis Offshore Academy

Artemis Offshore Academy applications due

Two weeks to go for those wishing to sign up for the UK's top yacht racing scholarship opportunity

Friday June 14th 2013, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom

The Artemis Offshore Academy Selection Trials for the 2014 Development Squad will take place in the UK between 18–21 July, with applications closing on 28 June.

The new intake into the 2014 Development Squad will be following in the footsteps of Academy Graduates Sam Goodchild, Nick Cherry and Henry Bomby, all currently competing in the Solitaire du Figaro; and could next summer find themselves racing in the Rookie Division, as are current Academy Development Squad members Ed Hill and Jack Bouttell – who is leading the Rookie Division at the halfway stage.

If Bouttell holds onto his advantage over the remaining two legs, he will become the first British sailor to ever win the Solitaire du Figaro Rookie title. Seeing five British sailors not only competing but excelling in this tough Figaro race, alongside the outstanding Classe Mini and RORC results for the other Development Squad members, is testament to both the sailors talents and that of the Artemis Offshore Academy in nurturing those talents.

Established in 2010, the Artemis Offshore Academy is the UK’s only centre of excellence for solo and short-handed offshore racing, giving British sailors the chance to train exclusively in the discipline.

“The annual Academy Selection Trials are an opportunity for any sailor, male or female, with a proven sailing track record, be it dinghy, match racing, Olympic or offshore to test their solo potential,” detailed Academy Performance Director John Thorn. “Long solitary hours, sleep deprivation and the rigour of ultra competitive racing demands that solo offshore sailors are in peak physical and mental condition; when the going gets tough, a solo sailor only has him or herself to rely on.”

To ensure the successful candidates have the potential to cope with the arduous training and racing programme, the Selection Trials will be based on a three day long race simulation exercise, where the sailors will face many of the challenges that will confront them in a solo or shorthanded sailing race. These tasks will include personal and boat preparation, physical fitness, competition both on and off the water and the opportunity to problem solve both as individuals and as part of a small team.

“Development Squad candidates require a high level of fitness from the outset,” Thorn continued. “While fitness monitoring and training are included in the Academy programme, successful Selection Trials applicant should be able to achieve a prescribed minimum level of fitness.”

If selected, successful Trials applicants will train with the Academy’s full time Development squad, gaining experience on the solo offshore-racing circuit in preparation for the highlight of the Figaro calendar, La Solitaire du Figaro. Only sailors who show determination, aptitude and a willingness to improve throughout the race season will be considered for the Academy’s entry in the Solitaire du Figaro.

“We are now well into our third season of the Academy project and we have seen some outstanding results in Classe Figaro, Classe Mini and Royal Ocean Racing Club events. Individual wins, podium finishes and this year, in the Solitaire du Figaro, the best results yet against one of the strongest fleets of solo Figaro sailors that the class has seen for many years. The Academy sailors are sailing amongst the biggest names and most talented sailors in solo sailing and proving they have the boat speed and skill to be competitive,” Thorn concluded.

Competing in the Solitaire du Figaro is a significant rung on the solo offshore ladder towards solo offshore racing's Everest, the Vendée Globe. Following in the footsteps of British solo offshore greats Ellen MacArthur, Mike Golding, Dee Caffari, Samantha Davies and Alex Thomson, it is the ultimate ambition of the Artemis Offshore Academy to put its solo British skippers in good contention to one day win the Vendée Globe.

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