The 2012/13 Vendée Globe race has proved to be record-breaking for the top three skippers, beating the previous 84-day record. At the age of 29, François Gabart (Macif) sailed into the record books as the youngest winner and fastest skipper ever to finish the race in an incredible time of 78 days, 2 hours, 16 minutes and 40 seconds.
British Vendée Globe skipper Alex Thomson inspires future British short-handed sailors
The race was also the closest ever as just three hours later fellow Breton skipper Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) crossed the finish line to take second place. Taking third place to set a new British Circumnavigation record was Gosport based Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) who finished after 80 days and 19 hours on the course. Commenting at his press conference Thomson said: 'In England we are very fortunate in having the Artemis Offshore Academy for short-handed sailing. They have supported the sport well and there are some good people coming through the ranks.'
The Artemis Offshore Academy squad followed the race day by day and have found inspiration from the performance of these great sailors. The Academy is developing British short-handed sailing talent by providing an intensive training programme for aspiring sailors who want to follow in the footsteps of British Vendée Globe sailors Dame Ellen MacArthur, Alex Thomson and Mike Golding. The Academy programme is designed to bring these ambitious sailors up through the ranks into the demanding world of short-handed offshore racing, and in 2013 the Academy will once again be competing on the world stage in over 130 days of competitive racing, a 20% increase from 2012, with the Solitaire du Figaro, Rolex Fastnet Race and Mini Transat being the highlight events of the year for the Figaro and Mini classes respectively.
Academy graduates Sam Goodchild and Henry Bomby have recently begun their 2013 training at the elite Pole Finistere offshore training centre in Brittany France. Sam and Henry are training alongside the likes of Francois Gabart and Armel Le C’leac’h as they focus on the main event of the season, the Solitaire du Figaro. 'The great thing about joining the Pole Finistere centre is that we’ll train with many of the greats in Figaro and solo offshore racing to really develop our skills further and learn from the best of the best' explained Sam. Read Henry and Sam’s recent blogs about training at the elite Pole Finisterre here.
The Artemis Offshore Academy 2013 race programme
Download the programme here.
'The Solitaire du Figaro would be the highlight race of the year for me, but there is a lot to learn beforehand,' reported squad sailor Jack Bouttell, who is hoping to secure a place in the four-stage Solitaire du Figaro alongside Sam, Henry and Nick Cherry.
The 44th Solitaire du Figaro will start from Bordeaux on the second of June. 'As well as the Solitaire du Figaro we also have the legendary Rolex Fastnet Race, followed by the Mini Transat in the calendar, these races combined with the other Figaro, Mini and double-handed events make it our most comprehensive race programme to date,' expanded John Thorn, Artemis Offshore Academy Performance Director.
Jack Bouttell - 2014 Solitaire du Figaro
'The full-time Squad of Mark Andrews, Ed Hill and Jack Bouttell are currently training at the Centre d’Entrainement Méditerranée under the guidance of seven-time Solitaire du Figaro veteran Nico Bérenger as they prepare for their first solo race of the season, the ICOM CUP in March. While full-time Mini sailor Nikki Curwen has also moved to France to train in the Lorient Grand Large Mini group led by renowned solo coach, Tanguy Le Glatin, before she too moves south to Italy and prepares for the Roma Mini Solo,' explained John.
Academy soloists Jack Bouttell, Mark Andrews and Ed Hill in La Grande Motte
Mini sailor Nikki Curwen, was born with Class Mini blood in her veins - her father Simon Curwen finished in a brilliant second place in the 2001 edition of the Mini Transat beating pro’s like Brian Thompson and Sam Davies. Simon still holds the accolade for highest placed British competitor. Nikki is focusing on qualifying for the 4,020nm Mini Transat from Douarnenez, France to Pointe á Pitre, Guadeloupe in October:
'The Mini Transat is the ultimate challenge - being on your own in a tiny little 21ft boat with no communication to land for over 30 days. The mental aspect and preparation is as great a challenge, as is the physical ability!'
Nikki Curwen and the newly refitted Mini 6,50
Firstly, Nikki must complete her qualification miles - 1000nm racing in the Roma Mini Solo and the Gran Premio d’Italia, as well as 1000nm solo passage on her boat Mini 438. Nikki hopes to have qualified by mid-May, however, simply qualifying does not guarantee her a place on the starting grid, she will join the short waiting list of eager Mini sailors vying to compete , whilst spending the summer months raising the final part of required funding that she needs to compete, and follow in her Father’s footsteps.
Meanwhile part-time Academy sailors, Robin Elsey, Sam Matson, Dyfrig Mon, and Alex Gardner, will be training throughout the year in a double-handed racing season from Cowes, UK, as Alex reports:
'Our double-handed programme this year is all focused towards doing the RORC Fastnet race in August, and hopefully the Tour de Bretagne in early September.'
For this group of sailors the first race of the season is the RORC Cervantes Trophy in May. 'I am really looking forward to our first race, and at 140nm the race won’t be the longest of the year, but a perfect way to start what will be a pivotal season for me.'
This is an exciting time for all members of the Artemis Offshore Academy as training intensifies both on and off the water. A series of interviews with the Academy sailors will be published online over the coming weeks to look at their campaigns in more detail.
Part-time Academy squad member Alex Gardner
Read Team GBR Finn coach Matt Howard's final report on his week with the Academy squad here.
Artemis Offshore Academy 2013 Race Programme:
ICOM MED CUP – Figaro - Solo - 6–12 March
Roma Mini Solo – Mini – Solo - 15–18 March
Solo Arimer- Figaro – Solo - 9– 13 April
Gran Premio d’Italia - Mini – Solo - 13 – 21 April
Solo Concarneau – Figaro – Solo – 4-9 May
RORC Cervantes Trophy – Figaro – Double-handed – 4-5 May
UK Solent 6.50 – Mini – Double-handed – 5-7 May
UK Fastnet 6.50 – Mini – Double-handed – 12-18 May
RORC Myth of Malham – Figaro – Double-handed – 25-26 May
Round the Island Race – Figaro – Fully crewed – 1 June
Solitaire du Figaro – Figaro – Solo – 2-23 June
Trophée Marie-Agnés Péron – Mini – Solo – 13-15 June
RORC De Guingand Bowl – Figaro – Double-handed – 14-16 June
Mini Fastnet – Mini – Double-handed – 23-27 June
RORC Morgan Cup – Figaro – Double-handed – 28-30 June
RORC Cowes-Dinard-St Marlo – Figaro – Double-handed – 12-14 July
RORC Channel Race – Figaro – Double-handed – 27-28 July
Cowes Week – Figaro – Fully crewed – 3-10 August
RORC Rolex Fastnet – Figaro – Double-handed – 11-18 August
Le Grande 8 – Mini – Solo/Double-handed – 18-25 August
Tour de Bretagne – Figaro – Double-handed – 1-7 September
RORC Cherbourg Race – Figaro – Double-handed – 6-8 September
Mini Transat – Mini – Solo – 13 October till approximately 23 November