Richard Langdon /

Cycle begins again for the Artemis Offshore Academy

Latest batch of trialists revealed

Thursday July 10th 2014, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom

Following on from last month's Solitaire du Figaro, the Artemis Offshore Academy is about to go full circle once again with it’s fifth annual Selection Trials.

Taking place over 14-16 July, this year’s hopeful candidates will be put through a series of exercises designed to test their mental stamina, physical fitness, strength of character and sailing ability – attributes critical in the making of a successful solo offshore sailor.

From a range of sailing backgrounds, but top performers in their field, this year’s Artemis Offshore Academy candidates are: Piers Hugh-Smith (18), Ben Rice (22), Andrew Baker (24), Tom Kinver (22), James Dodd (19), Robert Bunce (19), Oliver Norris (23) and Bryony Gregory (23) have just 55 hours to show they have what it takes and 320 days from the last day of trials to make it to the 2015 Solitaire du Figaro start line which next year starts from Bordeaux on the 31st May.

“We are looking for sailors who have the ability to transfer what they already know about the sport to the solo sailing discipline, and for those individuals that show us they are coachable, sponsorable, and capable of withstanding the rigours of life as a solo sailor,” explained Academy Sailing Team Manager, Charles Darbyshire. “Sailing ability is a prerequisite, but we are testing for much more, getting to know them over the selection period and trying to understand if they have what it takes to race in one of the most intensive environments across all of sport. We hope to uncover some talent, but we are not accepting sailors to the programme just because they took the trouble to apply, we are looking for those with a real spark about them and hope we can take them all the way to the Figaro Rookie podium in 2015.”

Backed by long term supporters of British offshore sailing (since 2006) Artemis Investment Management, the first Artemis Offshore Academy racing scholarship was awarded to Sam Goodchild in 2010.

Four years on, Goodchild has just taken part in his fourth Solitaire du Figaro with support from Artemis, now racing under his own name with his own Figaro – taking home the best British Solitaire du Figaro position in 38 years, 11th, in 2013: “The help I have received from Artemis has been so much more than a step up into the Figaro class, their support has been a massive boost to my whole sailing career. The experience gained in the Figaro class and the high level of competitor we are racing against leads to even bigger and better offshore racing opportunities – but without the support of sponsors, this wouldn’t be possible for any of us on the circuit. The experiences and knowledge I’ve picked up from my first four years in the Figaro I will now carry with me for the rest of my career.”

Darbyshire continues: “We’ve evolved the Academy’s processes each year to adapt to our learning, and the evolving needs of the sailors, there is no quick fix. In a sport that rewards experience we are ‘only’ going into our fifth year, and we are realistic about the length of programme we have to run in order to have the kind of foundation that the RYA now enjoys for the British Olympic Sailing Programme. Our sailors are making great progress and are by enlarge unusually young for the Figaro class – Henry Bomby for instance is in his third season at only the age of 23. There are few in France that started this young, exceptions include Vendée Globe winner Alain Gautier (52) and 2014 champion Jérémie Beyou (38). But we hope by getting these sailors into their own campaigns at this early age they will have a solid foundation on which to build a long and successful professional sailing career.”

In 2014, the Artemis Offshore Academy helped eight British Solitaire du Figaro competitors to the start line on the 8th June – nearly 25% of the total number of predominantly French competitors and the most the race has seen in its 45-year history.

Comprising four generations of Academy sailors, all having been through the year long training program, the ever-growing British contingent competing in this historically French dominated race was testament to the Academy’s evolving training initiative, and the vital and ongoing support of Artemis Investment Management as Event Coach Marcus Hutchinson explained: “The achievements of the Academy’s Rookies in 2014, two on the podium, Rich Mason 24th and Sam Matson 15th overall, have to be taken in the context of the varying standards of candidates that appear each year. It’s interesting to note that this year’s top Rookie finished just one place ahead of Sam in 14th, but if we look back at 2013 the early 20s overall was good enough for the Academy’s Jackson Bouttell to be top Rookie.

“No two years are ever the same in the Figaro, but perhaps the training regime for this year’s new recruits was significantly better and more refined than before, proving once again how the Artemis Offshore Academy is evolving with every new annual cycle, learning new things every year in an effort to produce better offshore sailors.”

With the 2015 Artemis Offshore Academy Rookie squad soon to be decided, the training process once again goes full circle with the Academy looking to repeat the numbers seen on this year’s start line in 2015.

British Solitaire du Figaro results:

2003 (42 entries)
Sam Davies – 19th/2nd Rookie

2004 (52 entries)
Sam Davies – 19th

2005 (46 entries)
Sam Davies – 22nd

2006 (44 entries)
Sam Davies – 25th

2007 (50 entries)
Nigel King – 48th/12th Rookie
James Bird – 49th/13th Rookie

2008 (50 entries)
Andy Greenwood – 41st/4th Rookie

2009 (52 entries)
Jonny Malbon – 45th/10th Rookie
Nigel King – 23rd

2010 (45 entries)
Jonny Malbon – 44th/

Artemis Offshore Academy formed

2011 (47 entries)
Phil Sharp – 18th/3rd Rookie
Conrad Humphries – 31st/7th Rookie
Sam Goodchild – 34th /8th Rookie
Nigel King – 38th

2012 (37 entries)
Sam Goodchild – 24th
Nick Cherry – 25th/4th Rookie
Henry Bomby – 31st/5th Rookie

2013 (41 entries)
Sam Goodchild – 11th
Nick Cherry – 17th
Jack Bouttell – 21st/1st Rookie
Henry Bomby – 24th
Ed Hill – 32nd/4th Rookie

2014 (38 entries)
Sam Matson – 15th/ 2nd Rookie
Sam Goodchild – 22nd
Rich Mason – 24th /3rd Rookie
Jack Bouttell – 25th
Nick Cherry – 26th
Henry Bomby – 28th
Alan Roberts – 34th /7th Rookie
Ed Hill – 36th

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