Rolex Fastnet Race - Figaro line honours for Curwen and Dalin

2013 Rolex Fastnet Race
In the Rolex Fastnet Race, following a tight tactical battle at the front of the 9-boat Figaro fleet, spanning 608-miles from Cowes to Plymouth via Fastnet Rock, Artemis Offshore Academy skipper Nikki Curwen and Charlie Dalin (Artemis 77) took line honours this morning to win the Figaro Class – marking the first time in the history of the Rolex Fastnet Race that the class has been given its own division.

Five minutes later, the next two Figaro boats approached the line, and with just metres to go Ed Hill and Gilles Chiorri (Artemis 37) pipped French crew Xavier Macaire and Yves Ravot to second place, with just five seconds to spare! Academy double-handers Sam Matson and Robin Elsey were the first fully British crew to cross the finish line in fourth, 21 minutes behind the winners, followed by Nick Cherry and Lizzy Foreman on Magma Structures in fifth, RockFish skipper Henry Bomby in sixth and Alex Gardner and Dyfrig Mon in seventh (Artemis 43) With just minutes separating the sailors on the Class Figaro podium, it was great finish for the British skippers, truly showcasing the highly competitive nature of the one-design Class Figaro here in the UK.

'The race was awesome, so intense the whole way round,' said a delighted Nikki on the finish line. 'Charlie is the master of tactics, it was such a good learning experience to actually go through the motions of making and acting on those decisions and even better when they repeatedly paid off.'

2012 Transat AG2R winner Charlie continued: 'It was really close racing with Xavier and Yves the whole 608 miles, we were never out of sight of each other, neck and neck for most of the way trying to out do one another with tactics. In the end our race was won by a single gybe coming into the line that we made and they didn't.'

DSC00111 - 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race

Setting off on Sunday 11th August from the Royal Yacht Squardron start line Cowes, the skippers became embroiled in a Figaro arm wrestle, tacking this way and that as they jostled for an early lead out of the Solent. South-west sailors Henry Bomby (Rockfish) and Academy double-handed skippers Sam and Robin (Artemis 21) quickly became locked in a fierce battle as they raced through home waters: 'It was on between us and Artemis 21 all the way to Fastnet Rock, but then we dropped the spinnaker a bit too early and they gained a few miles on us. It’s a bit of a sore subject,' Henry joked. 'It was a tactical race and winning tactics are what paid off in the end. In true class Figaro style, the race was tight, tactical and a close battle throughout.'

Sam, who begins his own solo Figaro campaign with the Artemis Offshore Academy later this year couldn’t be happier with his and co-skipper Robin’s performance and first real Class Figaro race: 'If this is what Figaro racing is like all the time, that close and competitive the whole way round the course, then I can't wait for the next one and for my Figaro season to begin.'

Nikki Curwen and Charle Dalin (Artemis 77) - Rolex Fastnet Race 2013 - 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race
The Class Figaro skippers saw a mixed bag of conditions from a light 3-5 knots putting the brakes on the fleet at Lands End to 25 knots for a wet and wild beat across the Irish sea towards the finish line: 'Conditions were neither really rough nor was there a total shut down,' Magma Structures skipper Nick explained. 'The almost benign weather made for a really tactical race, which is must more typical of a one-design Figaro race.'

For Artemis co-skippers Alex and Dyfrig still in their first year of Figaro training, the majority upwind and longer distance to sail made for a new racing experience as Alex revealed: 'I don't think we realised how tired we were and how it was effecting our performance, until I forgot how to steer and Dyfrig quite strongly told me about it. Tiredness combined with the constant pressure of racing over a long distance is really disorientating.' Whereas for more experienced Figaro skipper Ed Hill, the double-handed Rolex Fastnet Race came as a welcome break from the physical and mental toils of the recent solo Solitaire du Figaro: 'It was different to race a Figaro with two people, it was a lot nicer. I enjoyed the race throughout rather than having the constant love/hate battle I do with solo sailing. I'm thinking of going part-time with the Academy!

I hope that the Class has made a good impact on the UK sailing scene and we've shown just what an exciting and highly competitive class the Figaro really is,' Ed concluded.

Tune into BBC Radio Devon (103.4FM) tonight from 18:00 BST for more on the race from Artemis 21 skipper Sam Matson and Henry Bomby (RockFish) on David Fitzgerald’s drive time show. Then turn straight over to BBC Spotlight on the box to see Sam and co-skipper Robin Elsey with Henry and Sam Goodchild on the sofa at 18:30 BST this evening.

Rolex Fastnet Race 2013 - Class Figaro Results

Position/Boat name/Skipper names/Finishing time

1. Artemis 77/Nikki Curwen and Charlie Dalin/05:11
2. Artemis 37/Ed Hill and Gilles Chiorri/05:16
3. Maluel/Xavier Macaire and Yves Ravot/05:17
4. Artemis 21/Sam Matson and Robin Elsey/05:32
5. Magma Structures/Nick Cherry and Lizzy Foreman/06:27
6. RockFish/Henry Bomby and Richard Tolkien/06:30
7. Artemis 43/Alex Gardner and Dyfrig Mon/07:07
8. Full Irish/David Kenefick and Full Irish/07:18
9. Jehol/Didier Bouillard and co-skipper/07:31

Nikki Curwen, Artemis 77: 'I learned so much from Charlie, the Figaro is such a different boat to the Mini. The race was awesome, so intense the whole way round, but I still think I'm a Mini..not quite a convert yet! Charlie is the master of tactics; it was such a good learning experience to actually go through the motions of making and acting on those decisions and even better when they paid off. Making those little gains really helped keep our pace and motivation up, we didn't stop the whole race. It was a great race and we won! Charlie asked me on the finish line if we'd won a Rolex, I think he can keep dreaming!'

Charlie Dalin, Artemis 77: 'It was really close racing with Xavi and Yves the whole 608 miles, we were never out of sight of each other. The whole race we were gaining and losing inches along side them, but we finally managed to get a break at one of the TSS zones, having better boat speed we managed to take the lead, but then lost it again at Lizard Point and we were back neck and neck trying to out do one another with tactics. In the end our race was won by a single gybe that we made and they didn't.'

'It went really well sailing with Nikki, we managed ourselves well onboard and she had a lot of patience with me. I haven't sailed a Figaro for a year, so it took a while for me to remember everything and get used to the boat again. It's great to have won, especially against Xavier who is a well-respected skipper with great results in the Solitaire du Figaro this year. I knew it would be hard to beat them, but we had good speed and it was a really enjoyable race - there was never a dull moment with always a sail to trim or a decision to make. I think Nikki has great potential, she never says no, never complains and is always keen to do what needs to be done, even when I'm telling her to move sails and bags all day!'

Ed Hill, Artemis 37: 'We just managed to pip Xavi to the finish line after chasing him round the race course. We managed to nip in front to take second practically on the finish line with about five seconds between us. It was a really good race, conditions were light at times and we saw winds of up to 25 knots in the Irish Sea, but the weather pretty much did as it said it would so we could make tactical decisions quote effectively.'

'Sailing with Gilles was great, I learned so much and it was really enjoyable sailing. One of the highlights of sailing with Gilles is that he brought with him a menu of home cooked meals - we lived like kings! It was different to race a Figaro with two people, it was a lot nicer. I enjoyed the race throughout rather than having the constant love/hate battle I do with solo sailing.'

'It was a close race throughout and hopefully the Figaro class has made a good impression on UK sailing and sailors. With just a couple of minutes between the top Figaro finished, hopefully we've showed the kind of level class Figaro skippers race at.'

Robin Elsey, Artemis 21: 'It was an awesome race with an awesome finish. It was a tactical race throughout and we ended up finishing just 15 minutes behind the winners Nikki and Charlie in fourth after 608 miles of racing. It was incredibly tight, battling Henry all the way to Fastnet Rock and then chasing Ed and Gilles all the way to the finish line. We saw everything from 5 knots of wind, to a wet and windy 25 knots blast reach back to the finish line. I really enjoyed by first class Figaro race and can't wait to do more.'

Sam Matson, Artemis 21: 'I'm really happy with our performance, we managed to keep with the top three guys the whole way round and they had the advantage of being French! Maybe we should get a special prize for being the first UK boat to finish.'

'As we came into the finish, we were just 0.5 miles behind Ed and Gilles. We'd been chasing them all the way around the Fastnet course and managed to gain a lot over the final downwind leg. As we got stuck in lighter winds just off the line, we watched Artemis 37 just nip in front of Xavi and Yves on the line - that is the way of the Figaro, it's anyones race until you get across the line.'

'It was such a great race. I loved it. If this is what Figaro racing is like all the time, that close and competitive the whole way round the course - I can't wait for the next one and for my Figaro season to begin. I loved every second and it was an amazing start to my Figaro campaign.'

'The weather was fairly tricky, it did what it said, but the upwind stint required a lot of tactical decisions to be made and the downwind beat from Fastnet Rock was wet, wild and fast. Rounding Fastnet Rock was quite a challenge too. There was less than 100m visibility, with boats all around us in the pouring rain. It was so foggy we could barely see our own spinnaker off the bow, and just a couple of minutes away from Fastnet Rock the light was gone again. We had quite a lot on going round there. The TSS zones were quite a challenge too, often splitting the fleet.'

Henry Bomby, RockFish: 'It was a tactical race and winning tactics are what paid off in the end. Coming out of the Solent the battle was on between us and Artemis 21 all the way to Fastnet Rock, but then we dropped the spinnaker too early and they gained a few miles on us - bit of a sore subject! We did manage to gain on Nick Cherry and Magma Structures though, then two miles ahead of us we managed to close down the gap to cross the line just 50 seconds behind them.'

'In true class Figaro style, the race was tight, tactical and a close battle throughout, with the first half of the fleet eventually finishing within minutes of each other. I hope that the Class has made a good impact on the UK sailing scene and we've shown just what an exciting and highly competitive class the Figaro really is.'

Alex Gardner, Artemis 43: 'The race wasn't really what we had expected. In some ways we were really prepared, like in terms of our self-management onboard, but I don't think we were quite prepared for the full effects of the length of the race. We were tired as we have been before, but we've not been under the same race pressures before. We had to keep moving forward which was a little step outside of our comfort zone.'

'I don't think we realised how tired we were and how it was effecting our performance until I forgot how to steer and Dyfrig let me know about it. We needed that moment to realise and get ourselves back into a rhythm and get on with it. Tiredness combined with the constant pressure or racing over a long distance is really disorientating.'

'We are definitely happy with our performance. Our plan was to maintain a high level of sailing around the whole course and sail competitively throughout, which I think we did for most part. We could not be happier to have finished in front of David Kenefick and Didier, both Solitaire du Figaro skippers. We are not taking that victory lightly. We had a few breakages and made a few errors as expected, but it was all part of the Figaro learning curve. There are definitely things I will take from this race and make changes to the boat and myself ready for next season.'

Dyfrig Mon, Artemis 43: 'It was a very nice race, we had rain, we had sun, we had wind and seeing Fastnet Rock outlined by light in the mist was pretty cool. It was an intense race, with tough tactical decisions to be made throughout. It was the longest Figaro race for Alex and I to date and I'm happy with the performance we put in. We couldn't really expect any more, we did our best, learned a lot and it was great to finally race against other Figaros. One of the highlights for me was seeing that many boats trying to get around Fastnet Rock in the fog, in the dark and fast. It was a pretty amazing sight.'

Nick Cherry, Magma Structures: 'Conditions were neither really rough nor was there a total shut down. The almost benign weather made for a really tactical race, which is must more typical of a one-design Figaro race. We put in a good performance, always in front of Henry, always chasing Ed, but there are definitely things Lizzy and I could have done better and can work to improve on. The TSS zones were interesting, calling for tactical decisions, which split the fleet. It was an enjoyable Fastnet and I finished, so my unfinished business is no more.'

Lizzy Foreman, Magma Structures: 'It was really fun sailing with Nick and we were doing quite well up with the leader pack until we didn't factor a TSS zone into our navigation and ended up having to bear away really hard in the fog away from Fastnet Rock and lost the Figaro fleet in the mist. We were up there with Henry at that point, but ended up a few miles away from the course and the fleet, so set on a tight reach back to the Rock, which we couldn't see in the dark. That was probably the most challenging part of the race.'

'I learned a lot from Nick… Tight reaching is quite technical and something I've not done before, so I learned a lot from him then. It was also really interesting watching how he manages his sleep and eating onboard. Nick seems to eat little, just snacking and sleeps a lot. I found that really interesting to observe. All in all it was a really nice race.'

Artemis Offshore Academy