Next batch of triallists announced
This Thursday eight carefully selected candidates - Richard Mason, Matt Brushwood, Tom Partington, William Harris, Will Robinson, Alan Roberts, Will Ayliffe and Debbie Smith - will have their metal tested through the 2013 Artemis Offshore Academy Selection Trials, running over 18-21 July.
Now heading into its fourth year, the Artemis Offshore Academy continues to strive towards producing world-class short-handed sailors, having just recorded some of the best British Solitaire du Figaro results in the history of the prestigious French race.
The intensive four-day Artemis Offshore Academy UK Selection Trials are an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate their ability to overcome the challenges presented by solo offshore racing and their desire to succeed on one of the most competitive racing circuits in the world.
“Not all of the candidates selected to try out for the Artemis Offshore Academy have solo or offshore experience, but have an impressive record of results and a proven sailing background either in Olympic dinghy classes or crewed racing,” explained Performance Director John Thorn. “It is the job of the Academy to recognise potential and to help bring these already talented sailors to a level where they can be competitive against some of the best short-handed sailors in the world.”
Fresh from beating Vendée Globe winner Francois Gabart at the recent F18 World Championship, Olympic class sailor and 2013 Artemis Offshore Academy Selection Trial attendee Richard Mason now has his eye on a bigger, offshore prize.
“I finished my Olympic squad training this year and was looking for my next challenge,” 25-year-old Mason revealed, having worked his way up to 470s competing at international and world class level (NB: This is the not the Swedish-based Kiwi Richard Mason, the Volvo Ocean Race veteran.)
“The Artemis Offshore Academy looked like a great way to broaden my sailing skill set and came highly recommended by previous squad members Nick Cherry and Finn sailor Mark Andrews. Recently meeting Francois [Gabart] and hearing his round the world stories inspired me even more to move to big boats, with a hope to one day compete in the Volvo Ocean Race. That the winner of the Vendee Globe can take 4th place in a world class F18 fleet is a testament to the all round skill of these solo sailors – he’s an inspiration. The Academy is a great stepping stone into the world of offshore sailing.”
Mason will be joined by Hugo Boss and Artemis Ocean Racing II shore crew Will Ayliffe, whose experience at the Vendée Globe in November has spurred him on to pursue his own offshore ambitions. “The start of the Vendée in Les Sables d’Olonne was incredible, I can only compare the atmosphere to a rugby or football match – it was like nothing UK sailing has ever seen,” Ayliffe recalled. “Working to help prepare world class British skipper Alex Thomson for the Vendée Globe and now Brian Thompson for the Fastnet have been a great experiences and inspired me to now have a go at my own solo campaign. The Academy provides a unique opportunity for sailors to get a foot on the solo offshore ladder.”
The only female Selection Trials candidate Debbie Smith is no stranger to physical and mental challenges having joined the Royal Marines at the age of 16, where she stayed until the age of 21. More recently embarking on a doublehanded expedition, sailing from South America to Antarctica, via the infamous Cape Horn.
“I’ve always had a bucket list of races I’d like to do and seas I’d like to cross,” says Smith. “Everyone knows about the Academy Selection Trials, but you never think you’re going to be good enough to compete. However, during my short-handed expedition we managed to watch the Vendée Globe skippers rounding Cape Horn. I then realised there was no greater challenge than going solo and this year decided to apply for the Artemis Offshore Academy.”
A test of the candidates’ sailing ability, fitness levels and mental toughness, the Artemis Offshore Academy Selection Trials are designed to spotlight sailors who have what it takes to take on the rigours of solo offshore racing. However the eight 2013 hopefuls will have to wait until Thursday to find out what is in store, as the format of the Trials remains top secret until they arrive at 14:00 BST and the testing begins - with the majority trials this year taking place in Cowes rather than Weymouth.
2013 Artemis Offshore Academy Selection Trials Candidates:
Richard Mason, 25, Dorset
Matt Brushwood, 19, Buckinghamshire
Tom Partington, 25, Southampton
William Harris, 19, Surrey
Will Robinson, 24, Isle of Wight
Alan Roberts, 23, Southampton
Will Ayliffe, 28, Southsea
Debbie Smith, 23, Southampton