Solitaire du Figaro British rookies

Photos: Brian Carlin / Artemis Offshore Academy /
The Artemis Offshore Academy's Jack Bouttell and Ed Hill discuss the big event
Soon to conclude its third season, the arbitrators at the Artemis Offshore Academy have this year chosen Jack Bouttell and Ed Hill as the beneficiaries of the Edinburgh-based investment house’s scholarship scheme for budding British solo offshore racing sailors. Both Bouttell and Hill, plus Irish sailor David Kenefick (at 21, the youngest sailor in this year's Solitaire) are among the seven rookies (‘bizuths’), sailing their first Solitaire du Figaro. As is normal with the AOA, both Hill and Bouttell spent the winter undergoing the Academy’s now well established training process for newbie Figarists down at the Centre d'Entrainement Méditerranée (CEM), the training centre in La Grande Motte, under the tutelage of French coach Franck Citeau. Despite a difference in their ages – Bouttell is 22, Hill 30 – both are highly experienced keel boat sailors. Born in Australia, Bouttell has lived in the UK all his adult life. His family lived in various places around the UK before ending up in Warsash. Although his father was a keen 14ft skiff sailor and a boatbuilder, Bouttell wasn't fussed about boats until at school he was forced to pick between sailing and rowing as sports. He chose sailing because it was an afternoon activity, whereas rowing was early morning – and since then he has not looked back. Bored with school, he left aged just 16 and despite his parents moving back to Australia, he stayed on in England to walk the docks, subsequently establishing himself as a pro sailor despite his tender age. Bouttell’s biggest stint has been the two years he spent working on the Ker 46 Tonnerre de Breskens, belonging to one of ocean racing’s keenest owner drivers, Piet Vroon. During his time on the blue Dutch boat, Bouttell says he worked in “every position”. Last year his tenure on board for the season