Spindrift Racing Maxi Trimaran (Photo © Chris Schmid / Spindrift racing )

On 6 November 2017 Spindrift racing, the France-based sailing team will be starting the standby period for its second attempt on the Jules Verne Trophy, the iconic non-stop round the world record.

Spindrift’s skipper, Yann Guichard (FRA), has carefully selected a crew of eleven sailors who bring with them a depth of sailing experience from the worlds of Figaro, Olympics and racing multihulls.  His crew include seven who formed part of the first attempt on the record, with the other five bringing multiple complementary skills to the team.

The current Jules Verne Trophy record, set by Francis Joyon and his crew last winter, stands at 40 days, 23 hours and 30 minutes, and Spindrift has spent much of the past two years optimising its 40-metre maxi-trimaran, Spindrift 2, in Brittany to take on this new challenge.

Joining the team are Thierry Chabagny (FRA) just returned from a Solitaire and a Fastnet in the Figaro, Ewen Le Clech (FRA), who rejoins the trimaran having worked on updating it with Pascal Bidégorry in 2010.  Britain’s Sam Goodchild joined Yann Guichard on the match-race circuit this season, having spent two years racing offshore trimarans.  Also joining is Thomas Le Breton (FRA), a former member of the French Olympic team in the Laser and then the Finn, who has recently returned from Bermuda where he was a tactician for the French challenge in the America’s Cup. Finally, completing this group are Tanguy Cariou, ex-member of the French Olympic team and crew in D35, who will be on the first part of the stand-by, and then Erwan Le Roux (part of the Spindrift 2 crew for the Transat Québec-Saint Malo) will take over from November 26, 2017, when he returns from the Transat Jacques Vabre.This five-man squad will join Yann Guichard and six crew from the 2015 attempt. These are sailors that Guichard knows well: Xavier Revil, Christophe Espagnon and François Morvan have all run Olympic campaigns together.  Antoine Carraz or Jacques Guichard have been part of the Spindrift team since its inception, and Erwan Israel is back onboard again as navigator.

Nine records in 24 years: 
Yann Guichard is in no doubt of the incredibly tough challenge that lies ahead and has appointed Jean-Yves Bernot to be the onshore weather router for this attempt.
The original record set by Commodore Explorer was for 79 days 6 hours and 16 minutes, in the intervening 24 years the record has been almost halved and after iDec Sport’s successful challenge last winter, now stands at 40 days 23 hours 30 minutes.

2017 Jules Verne Trophy Crew: 
Yann Guichard (skipper)
Erwan Israël (navigator)
Jacques Guichard (watch captain/helm/timmer)
Christophe Espagnon (watch captain / helm / bow)
Xavier Revil (watch captain /helm /trimmer)
François Morvan (helm / trimmer)
Antoine Carraz (helm / trimmer)
Thierry Chabagny (helm /bow)
Ewen Le Clech (helm / trimmer)
Sam Goodchild (helm / bow)
Thomas Le Breton (helm / trimmer)
Tanguy Cariou  (helm / trimmer) / Erwan Le Roux  (helm / trimmer)

 

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Solo Maître Coq - The start - Rich Mason “The highlight of the race for me was the first run to Île d’Yeu. Having not had a good first beat, I made some really good decisions and came into the island about 10th, which I was really happy with. It also gave me a bit of confidence because I knew that the decisions I was making were the right ones, so I could take that on through the race.” © Artemis Offshore Academy

Solo Maître Coq – The start – Rich Mason
“The highlight of the race for me was the first run to Île d’Yeu. Having not had a good first beat, I made some really good decisions and came into the island about 10th, which I was really happy with. It also gave me a bit of confidence because I knew that the decisions I was making were the right ones, so I could take that on through the race.” © Artemis Offshore Academy

Today at 06:52GMT, Artemis Offshore Academy skipper Rich Mason (Artemis 77) finished the 215 mile Solo Maître Coq 19th overall and second Rookie, just three minutes behind last year’s winning Rookie Jack Bouttell (Overboard) in 18th. Kicking off on Thursday 13th March, the Solo Maître Coq was a race of two halves from sunshine, super light airs, and kedging (using the anchor to stop being swept away on the tide) in the first 24 hours, to a cold fog and 18 knots of wind with a blast reach along the coast in the second. Finishing 21st of 35 boats, Ed Hill (Macmillan Cancer Support) was not bowled over by his result, but more importantly felt he took away invaluable lessons from the first race of the season, as did Rookie Alan Roberts who finished 29th overall and 5th Rookie. Henry Bomby (24th) also took something away from the Solo Maître Coq, collapsing on the dock and vowing to never again to start a race without an autopilot after being hunched at the helm for nearly 40 hours. For Henry, Sam Goodchild (Team Plymouth) and Rookie Sam Matson (Artemis 21), the Solo Maître Coq was a testing start to the season, each skipper faced their own challenges that in the end they could not overcome. Proving it doesn’t matter who or how good you are, double Solitaire du Figaro winner Yann Elies also felt the burn of close quarters Figaro racing in the Solo Maître Coq. After leading the fleet round the course for the majority of the race, Yann was pipped to the finish line on the home straight by Maître Coq skipper Jérémie Beyou, who fittingly became the Solo Maître Coq champion this morning.

His face says it all. Rich Mason comes home 19th and second Solo Maître Coq Rookie. © Artemis Offshore Academy

His face says it all. Rich Mason comes home 19th and second Solo Maître Coq Rookie. © Artemis Offshore Academy

“The first night of the race was really hard work,” Rich reported, beaming ear to ear on the docks this morning. “I’ve never drifted around so much or had to anchor in a race before and my sails were just flapping in the swell 90% of the time. However, I made some good decisions at the start, which gave me a bit of confidence. I knew that the decisions I was making were the right ones, so I could take that on through the race. I made a few ‘Rookie’ errors the more tired I got, but I’m pretty happy with my performance.”

Watch Rookies Rich and Alan’s finishing interviews.

Top Brit Phil Sharp finished in 12th place, only an error in finishing prevented him from holding on to a top 10 finish. Still a good result in this fleet for the experienced British solo sailor, with a Route du Rhum win, and a Mini Transat under his belt – his CV sits nicely with those around him on the results table.

Despite his lack of autopilot, Henry Bomby also sailed a smart race. One of the furthest boats inshore on the first run to Île d’Yeu, Henry was at the back of the fleet in 33rd. But with the fleet becalmed, he was able to sail up to and into the pack once again. By Friday (14th) morning, Henry had sailed his way past half the fleet and into 16th. At his peak, he was in 9th position, sailing hull to hull with the top skippers in the fleet. However, sailing 200+ miles without a pilot or any real rest, Henry’s body started to shut down as he explained: “I was doing quite well, then on the way back south to Les Sables d’Olonne I just crashed from being tired and on the helm the whole time. I kept nodding off. Four times I counted I woke up and I’d broached out with the spinnaker still up. I had this sort of weird internal monologue going on in my head, narrating to myself what I needed to do – it was so odd. But I can tell you, trying to take a spinnaker down without an autopilot is bloody hard.”Henry finished 24th overall after one day, 19 hours, 34 minutes and 15 seconds of racing.

For most of the skippers, their race took a dip as tiredness kicked in, however in the case of the ever consistent Jack Bouttell, he reported his race only got better with time: “The race got better for me the longer it went on. I was making stupid mistakes, as you do having not sailed for a while, but slowly and surely I worked on them and worked out was wrong with the boat and learned from them. It was a pretty tough course, one of the tougher ones I’ve done. It was just endless transitions and no wind to suddenly wind – it was just really really tough and I’m pleased with my position.” With just nine days to clean the moss from the deck of his chartered boat, fire up the electrics and generally get his new vessel into racing shape, just making it to the Solo Maître Coq start line was a challenge in itself for Jack. Stepping aboard a Figaro solo for just the third time since competing in the 2013 Solitaire du Figaro, his main aim was to get around the course with no major breakages – so to finish 19th was a great start to the season for the skipper aiming for top 15 in the Solitaire this year.

Most experienced Figaro sailor in the British fleet Sam Goodchild and 2014 Rookie Sam Matson, two skippers at either end of the Academy spectrum, both ran into trouble rounding Île d’Yeu – the kind of trouble that puts paid to a race: “The Solo Maître Coq was ok, it didn’t quite go to plan. It was a shame to miss a training session for that basically!” joked Sam Goodchild on the docks, finishing 26th overall after sailing too close to Île d’Yeu and dropping from the top ten to the bottom five, then never reconnecting with the fleet. “The first 12 hours were good for me in the top ten, I took a lot of positives out of that, but then I didn’t really see anyone after that. It’s been a long long 36 hours.”

Watch Sam Goodchild’s finishing interview here.

Sam Matson also found himself in a ‘fishy’ situation at Île d’Yeu, after getting his Figaro caught on the netting and lines of a fish farm just off the island: “I spent about half an hour trying to back my boat off of a fish farm. I had to drop both my sails and the boat was getting pushed on by the tide pretty hard. I contemplated cutting the net, but there were quite a few fishing boats around so I thought I’d better not. I eventually freed myself from the net, but by that time I was already really behind.”

The first race of the season, the Solo Maître Coq, was the most important training exercise of the Academy skippers’ programme to date. Rich, Alan and Sam will have come out of the other side of the two day Solo Maître Coq knowing more about Figaro racing than they’ve been taught in the last five months and with over a month until the Solo Concarneau Trophée Guy Cotton in May, there’s plenty of time to take heed of the lessons they’ve learned. But for now, the skippers can enjoy some well earned rest and an afternoon of RBS 6 nations action ahead of the prize giving at 18:00pm.

See the Artemis Offshore Academy skippers’ interviews post the Solo Maître Coq here.

Follow the progress of the British Figaro contingent this season via the Artemis Offshore Academywebsite, and via Facebook and Twitter.

Solo Maître Coq British Results
Postion/Skipper/Boat name/Nationality/Elapsed Time/Rookie position

12. Phil Sharp/Phil Sharp Racing/GBR/1d, 18h, 58’, 40″
18. Jack Bouttell/Overboard/GBR/1d, 19h, 14’, 15″
19. Richard Mason/Artemis 77/GBR/1d, 19h, 17’, 10″*(2nd Rookie)
21. Ed Hill/Macmillan Cancer Support/GBR/1d, 19h, 24’, 10″
24. Henry Bomby/Black Mamba/GBR/1d, 19h, 34’, 15″
26. Sam Goodchild/Team Plymouth/GBR/1d, 20h, 08’, 25″
29. Alan Roberts/Artemis 23/GBR/1d, 21h, 03’, 58″*(5th Rookie)
31. Sam Matson/Artemis 21/GBR/1d, 22h, 11’, 26″* (7th Rookie)

Solo Maître Coq Results
Postion/Skipper/Boat name/Nationality/Elapsed Time/Rookie position

1. Jérémie Beyou/Maître Coq/FRA/1d, 18h, 26’, 25″
2. Gildas Mahé/Interface Concept/FRA/1d, 18h, 29’, 10″
3. Thierry Chabagny/Gedimat/FRA/1d, 18h, 30’, 18″
4. Yann Elies/Groupe QUEGUINER-LEUCEMIE ESPOIR/FRA/1d, 18h, 31’, 10″
5. Charlie Dalin/Normandie Elite Team/FRA/1d, 18h, 38’, 25″
6. Fabien Delahaye/Skipper Macif 2012/FRA/1d, 18h, 40’, 01″
7. Alexis Loison/Groupe FIVA/FRA/1d, 18h, 44’, 37″
8. Corentin Horeau/Bretagne Credit Mutuel Performance/FRA/1d, 18h, 46’, 30″
9. Corentin Douguet/Un Maillot Pour La Vie/1d, 18h, 52’, 23″
10. Adrien Hardy/AGIR Recouvrement/FRA/1d, 18h, 52’, 42″
11. Nicolas Jossier/In Extenso Experts comptables/FRA/1d, 18h, 54’, 15″
12. Phil Sharp/Phil Sharp Racing/GBR/1d, 18h, 58’, 40″
13. Damien Guillou/La Solidarité Mutualiste/FRA/1d, 19h, 00’, 14″
14. Alain Gautier/Generali Solo/FRA/1d, 19h, 01’. 50″
15. Yoann Richomme/Skipper Macif 2014/FRA/1d, 19h, 06’, 14″
16. Sébastien Simon/Bretagne Credit Mutuel Espoir/FRA/1d, 19h, 08’, 45″*(1st Rookie)
17. David Kenefick/Full Irish/IRE/1d, 19h, 10’, 30″
18. Jack Bouttell/Overboard/GBR/1d, 19h, 14’, 15″
19. Richard Mason/Artemis 77/GBR/1d, 19h, 17’, 10″*(2nd Rookie)
20. Gwénolé Gahinet/Safran/Guy Cotton/FRA/1d, 19h, 20’, 50″*(3rd Rookie)
21. Ed Hill/Macmillan Cancer Support/GBR/1d, 19h, 24’, 10″
22. Clément Salzes/Darwin – Les Marins de la Lune/FRA/1d, 19h, 25’, 30″*(4th Rookie)
23. Claire Pruvot/Port de Caen Ouistreham/FRA/1d, 19h, 30’, 30″
24. Henry Bomby/Black Mamba/GBR/1d, 19h, 34’, 15″
25. Isabelle Joschke/Horizon Mixité/FRA/1d, 19h, 56’, 15″
26. Sam Goodchild/Team Plymouth/GBR/1d, 20h, 08’, 25″
27. Eric Peron/Generali/FRA/1d, 20h, 26’, 25″ (2h penalty time)
28. Vincent Biarnes/Prati’Buches/FRA/1d, 20h, 54’,30″(2h penalty time)
29. Alan Roberts/Artemis 23/GBR/1d, 21h, 03’, 58″*(5th Rookie)
30. Emil Tomasevic/Ultra Figaro/CRO/1d, 21h, 38’, 56″*(6th Rookie)
31. Sam Matson/Artemis 21/GBR/1d, 22h, 11’, 26″* (7th Rookie)
RTR Joan Ahrweiller/Région Basse – Normandie/FRA
RTR Alexandre Jongh/Vendée 1/FRA*
RTR Anthony Marchand/Recherche Sponsor/FRA
RTR Frédéric Rivet/DFDS Seaways/FRA

Solo Maître Coq Rookie Results
Postion/Skipper/Boat name/Nationality/Elapsed Time

1. Sébastien Simon/Bretagne Credit Mutuel Espoir/FRA/1d, 19h, 08’, 45″
2. Richard Mason/Artemis 77/GBR/1d, 19h, 17’, 10″
3. Gwénolé Gahinet/Safran/Guy Cotton/FRA/1d, 19h, 20’, 50”
4. Clément Salzes/Darwin – Les Marins de la Lune/FRA/1d, 19h, 25’, 30″
5. Alan Roberts/Artemis 23/GBR/1d, 21h, 03’, 58″
6. Emil Tomasevic/Ultra Figaro/CRO/1d, 21h, 38’, 56″
7. Sam Matson/Artemis 21/GBR/1d, 22h, 11’, 26″
RTR Alexandre Jongh/Vendée 1/FRA

Ed Hill tucks in behind Rich Mason on route to Île de Ré on the second day of the Solo Maître Coq. © Artemis Offshore Academy

Ed Hill tucks in behind Rich Mason on route to Île de Ré on the second day of the Solo Maître Coq. © Artemis Offshore Academy

Transat Jacques Vabre Le Havre  Jean-Marie Liot  DPPI TJV13

Strong wind in the Transat Jacques Vabre village in the Vatine Marina in Le Havre (North France) on October 28, 2013 – Photo Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI/TJV13

Young British duo Sam Goodchild and Ned Collier Wakefield are expected in Le Havre this Tuesday after a tough battle to have their new, recently launched Jason Ker designed Class 40 fully optimised in time for the start of the race. They may have been pressed for time, but have left absolutely nothing to chance. After being cruelly forced to retire from the last Transat Jacques Vabre just after they had taken the Class 40 lead, overhauling Aquarelle.com, and battling through the last big storm of the race, they discovered some delamination in the front sections of their boat and had to abandon and head to the Azores. But they report that they are in good shape, ready to make the short hop from Hamble to Le Havre.

“We are waiting for the wind to die to get going, we still have 40kts but it is dropping fairly quickly and we should get going fairly soon. We have been watching the weather very closely”, Co-skipper Ned Collier Wakefield reported this morning.

To make sure nothing untoward happened on their final night in their home marina at Hamble Yacht Services before leaving for Le Havre, Collier-Wakefield decided to sleep on their boat through the storm force winds.

“I got a little sleep. I was more worried something would come crashing into us during the night. Actually I probably got better sleep than I would at sea! Otherwise we are getting there and will be ready to go shortly.”

“Race Direction have been very understanding. To be honest we just ran out of time. We had to get new spreaders made in Cape Town at the last minute. There has been some work to do with the rig and rudders. Andy Meiklejohn has been great in helping us set up the rig. We have had a few problems with the kick up rudders but have a good solution now. They have had a good test now and we are confident.”

Concise 8 has had ten days of trialling at sea including a tough sail down to Ushant and back from Hamble.

“We are incredibly impressed with the boat. We brought her back upwind in big seas and did some proper slamming. The performance is especially good reaching, I am sure we have one of the quickest boats when the wind is between 95-130 degrees especially. And we have had some great sailing under the big kites.”

The new Concise has a much more inboard chainplate position, which allows them to set big upwind Code Zero sails, especially potent for pushing through light wind transition zones, like in the Doldrums.

“The boat has the Transat Jacques Vabre and Route du Rhum as two key events. We looked at a lot of historical weather data for the races and developed a potent hull form. The rig is a little heavier for this set up, but we did a lot of work with the sail and rig development, with Chris Williams and Scott Ferguson and so it feels like we have a proper closed loop, grand prix set up.”

Collier-Wakefield is confident he knows their new boat better than any of his rivals, having been in the yard in China throughout the build.

“Yes we have not had the time we might have wanted on the water but we have had great guys involved all the way through.”

Living the Dream, Taking A Chance
And while the young English duo are on the ascent as professional sailors, looking to make their mark at the front of the fleet, so Class 40 of the Transat Jacques Vabre is also where many of the most committed and talented amateur sailors will compete, living their dreams. Some of them have limited expectations of winning, looking to get to Brazil safely and to sail to the best of their ability. Budgets and racing experience may be correspondingly less than their professional rivals but these amateurs are no less enthusiastic.

 

There are osteopaths, project managers, emergency doctor, company directors but now they are taking time out from their wage paying careers to take on the adventure of the Transat Jacques Vabre.

“It is really not easy to find time to prepare. I delivered the boat from Marie Galante with a friend who could barely sail. Let’s say it was a real baptism of fire!” recalls Dominique Rivard (Marie Galante ).Australians Michelle Zwagerman and Pat Conway on the Class 40 are also living their dream.

m1569_crop11014_1000x1000_proportional_13829820165EFF

Doctor Damien Rousseau skipper of the Class 40 Mr Bricolage engaged in the Transat jacques Vabre in Le Havre (North France) on October 28, 2013 – Photo Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI/TJV13

“It started last year in April. We bought the boat and have done it all ourselves. For us, it is a huge challenge”.

Christoph Petter (co-skipper on Vaquita), is an Austrian entrepreneur who set sail on his adventures five years ago and enjoys offshore races, but the Transat Jacques Vabre will be his first big one.

“We feel both excitement and fear”, says Michelle Zwagerman. “We’ll have to control our anxiety during gales, but most of the time, it will be fantastic. Dolphins, the moon, the stars, I am looking forwards to some great moments.”

Tough budgets
And even making it to the start of Transat Jacques Vabre requires great perseverance and tenacity.

Damien Rousseau explains: “I started without money but wanted to realise a childhood dream. I took the big chance and plunged into debt. I thought it was no worse than buying a nice car but I finally also found myself a sponsor who has helped me do it a bit more comfortably.”

Rousseau has been able to race in various events in preparation including a good ninth place in Les Sables-Horta-Les Sables . But, in contrast, without a sponsor Dominique Rivard has had to draw on his own money: “I took a bank loan to buy a boat at EUR 250,000. Everything is very expensive, I have put another EUR 80,000 euros in the pot since, and I have worked 70 hours a week.”

All of these sailors are on a break from their daily lives and careers: some see it as big step towards new adventures, others a unique one off experience, like Pat Conway: “Our boat is already for sale and once we have completed the Transat Jacques Vabre we return a normal life in Australia.”

Village life
Closed since 2000hrs Sunday night due to the storm force winds the village of the Transat Jacques Vabre will reopen tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 1000hrs.

All of the technical teams have remained on high alert around the village of the Transat Jacques Vabre. Buses and lorries were parked along the perimeter to protect the tents around Paul Vatine dock.

2011 Title Defenders
Monohull 60′:
Virbac-Paprec
Jean-Pierre DICK & Jérémie BEYOU
15days 18h 15min 54sec

Multihull 50′:
Actual
Yves LE BLEVEC & Samuel MANUARD
17days 17h 7min 43sec

Class 40′:
Aquarelle.com
Yannick BESTAVEN
& Éric DROUGLAZET
21days 17h 59min 8sec

2013 Participants

MONOHULLS

Class40

  • 11TH Hour racing  – Hannah Jenner, Rob Windsor
  • APRIL / DELTACALOR -Lionel Regnier, Tim Darni
  • BET1128  – Gaetano Mura, Sam Manuard
  • Campagne de France  – Halvard Mabire, Miranda Merron
  • Caterham Challenge  – Mike Gascoyne, Brian Thompson
  • Concise 8  – Ned Collier Wakefield, Sam Goodchild
  • Croix du sud  – Michelle Zwagerman, Patrick Conway
  • DUNKERQUE – PLANETE ENFANTS  – Bruno Jourdren, Thomas Ruyant
  • Eärwen  – Catherine Pourre, Goulven Royer
  • ECOELEC – FANTRONIC – Eric Darni, Florent Bernard
  • ERDF – Des pieds et Des mains  – Damien Seguin, Yoann Richomme
  • Fantastica  – Stefano Raspadori, Pietro D’Ali
  • GDF SUEZ  – Sébastien Rogues, Fabien Delahaye
  • Groupe Picoty  – Jean-Christophe Caso, Aymeric Chappellier
  • Mare  – Jörg Riechers, Pierre Brasseur
  • MARIE-GALANTE  – Dominique Rivard, Wilfrid Clerton
  • Matouba  – Bertrand Guillonneau, Sébastien Audigane
  • Mr Bricolage  – Damien Rousseau, Matthieu Alluin
  • Obportus³  – Olivier Roussey, Philippe Burger
  • Phoenix Europe  – Louis Duc, Stéphanie Alran
  • Proximedia – Sauvez Mon Enfant  – Denis Van Weynbergh,
  •                                                               Jean-Edouard Criquioche
  • SNCF – GEODIS  – Fabrice Amedeo, Armel Tripon
  • Solidaires En Peloton   –  Victorien Erussard, Thibaut Vauchel-Camus
  • Tales Santander 2014   –  Alex Pella, Pablo Santurde
  • Vaquita    –  Christof Petter, Andreas Hanakamp

IMOCA

  • Bureau vallée    –  Louis Burton, Guillaume Le Brec
  • Cheminées Poujoulat   –  Bernard Stamm, Philippe Legros
  • Energa    –  Zbigniew Gutkowski , Maciej Marczewski
  • Initiatives-Coeur  –  Tanguy de Lamotte, François Damiens
  • MACIF   –   François Gabart, Michel Desjoyeaux
  • Maitre CoQ   –  Jérémie Beyou, Christopher Pratt
  • PRB  –  Vincent Riou, Jean Le Cam
  • Safran   –   Marc Guillemot, Pascal Bidégorry
  • TEAM PLASTIQUE  – Alessandro Di Benedetto, Alberto Monaco
  • Votre Nom Autour du Monde  – Bertrand de Broc, Arnaud Boissières

MULTIHULLS    MOD70

  • Edmond de Rothschild   –  Sébastien Josse, Charles Caudrelier
  • OMAN AIR – MUSANDAM   –  Sidney Gavignet , Damian Foxall

Multi 50

  • Actual  – Yves le Blévec, Kito de Pavant
  • Arkema-Région Aquitaine   –  Lalou Roucayrol, Mayeul Riffet
  • FenêtréA Cardina  –  lErwan Le Roux, Yann Elies
  • Maître Jacques   –   Loïc Féquet, Loic Escoffier
  • Vers un monde sans SIDA  –  Erik Nigon, Samy Villeneuve

 

Photo by Artemis Offshore Academy

 

In brief
•    130 days of competitive short-handed racing planned this year for the Academy Squad – a 20% increase on 2012
•    Academy recruits inspired by recent Vendée Globe, as 3rd placed finisher Alex Thomson extols the virtues of the Academy: “In England we are very fortunate in having the Artemis Offshore Academy for short-handed sailing.” 
•    Mark Andrews, Ed Hill and Jack Bouttell continue their solo Figaro training in France with Team GBR Finn coach Matt Howard and seven time Solitaire du Figaro veteran Nico Berenger. Read Matt Howard’s final report on his week with the Academy squad here.
•    Nikki Curwen kick starts her Mini training in Lorient with her sights firmly set on the 2013 Mini Transat
•    Academy graduates Sam Goodchild and Henry Bomby train at Pole Finistere, the elite French offshore training centre
•    Part-time Squad sailors training in double-handed racing to compete in the RORC’s offshore race programme

In full
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. The race was also the closest ever as just 3 hours later fellow Breton skipper Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) crossed the finish line to take 2nd place. Taking 3rd 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 one 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 2nd 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 © Lloyd Images

“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.  Read John’s latest blog here.


  Academy soloists Jack Bouttell, Mark Andrews and Ed Hill in La Grande Motte © Artemis Offshore Academy

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!”  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.


Nikki Curwen and the newly refitted Mini 6.50 © Artemis Offshore Academy

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.”


Part-time Academy squad member Alex Gardner © Lloyd Images

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.

Read Team GBR Finn coach Matt Howard’s final report on his week with the Academy squad here

Follow the Academy on Facebook and Twitter for real time news.

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

 

Artemis 23 Skippers, Nick Cherry and Sam Goodchild (Photo © Alexis Courcoux)

Artemis 23 Skippers, Nick Cherry and Sam Goodchild (Photo © Alexis Courcoux)

At 13.00 CET on Saturday 21st April, Artemis Offshore Academy sailors Sam Goodchild and Nick Cherry set off on the 3890nm race across the Atlantic in the 11th edition of the Transat AG2R La Mondiale; from Concarneau to Saint Barthelemy. Flying the flag for Great Britain and the youngest crew in the fleet, Sam and Nick are taking on the some of the finest competitors in the Beneteau Figaro 2 class.

After a final weather briefing, the sailors headed down to the docks for the last time: “We’ve just rigged the boat for windy conditions. Conditions at the moment are clear skies, sunshine and the forecasted 20 knots of wind, so similar conditions to the prologue.”  At 11.00am CET, the 16 Figaros said their final emotional goodbyes, and headed out of the harbour one by one to the applause of a growing crowd of spectators who provided a great atmosphere and added to the emotion of the departure.

Artemis 23 round the first mark in 4th position (Photo by Artemis Offshore Academy)

Artemis 23 round the first mark in 4th position (Photo by Artemis Offshore Academy)

Nick Cherry and Sam Goodchild on board Artemis 23 © Artemis Offshore Academy

The fleet crossed the start line at 13.00 CET, with Goodchild and Cherry setting off in great shape. Artemis 23 made a great start as Artemis Offshore Academy performance director, John Thorn details: “The race started with a chilly North Westerly wind of around 15 knots, (gusting up to 25 in the rain squalls) Conditions were sunny, with patches of heavy rain. The spectator boats have turned out in force off Concarneau churning up the sea, and cheering on the double handed sailors as they head out to open ocean. Sam and Nick set of in great spirits buoyed on by a good first leg and rounded the first windward mark in 4th position. Nearing the next mark, Artemis 23 is creeping into 3rd. As usual for a race start in France, there are masses of spectator boats, creating rough and confused waves making it a very difficult race start, especially for the boats

Prior to the race, Goodchild reported: “I’m feeling good, looking forward to getting out there after months of preparation. We have fairly bad weather predicted for the next three days, so I’m looking forward to getting through that and eventually seeing the Caribbean on the horizon.” To which Cherry added: “Conditions from tomorrow (Sunday) are looking pretty heinous, with strong winds and rough seas.” Weather conditions are set to take a turn for the worse with rain, big waves and winds of up to 50 knots setting in off Cape Finistère, a point on the course notoriously difficult at the best of times.
The masses of spectator boats made for a difficult start.

These conditions are expected to moderate somewhat by the time the fleet arrive there on Monday. After which the course turns South from Cape Finistère and heads off towards a virtual turning mark near the Canary Islands; the temperatures will increase and as the wind turns and comes from behind, the downwind spinnaker conditions should make for much more comfortable sailing.

La Transat AG2R La Mondiale is famous for it’s varying and challenging weather conditions and the claustrophobic living conditions will only add to the pressure. After leaving Concarneau at 13.00 CET on Saturday 21st April, the fleet hope to cross the Atlantic in 23-25 days.
For daily updates on the race and Artemis 23’s progress visit www.artemisoffshoreacademy.com and the Transat AG2R La Mondiale official race tracker.

Get all the latest news and track the race on your phone or ipad with the La Transat AG2R La Mondiale app or visit the official La Transat AG2R La Mondiale website.

You can also follow the Artemis Offshore Academy on Facebook and Twitter.

Race: La Transat AG2R La Mondiale, start time 1300 CET
Route: Finistère, Concarneau to Gustavia, Saint Barthelemy
Distance: 3890nm
Specification: Double-handed, one design transatlantic crossing
Yacht: Figaro Beneteau II
Length: 10m
Teams: Artemis, Banque Populaire, Bretagne Crédit Mutuel Performance, Cercle Vert, Cornovaille Port de Peche, EDM/Pays Basque Enterprises, GAES, Gedimat, Hotel Emeraude Plage Saint-Barthelemy, La Solidarité Mutualiste, Les Recycleurs Breton, Nacarat, NC1, NC2, One Network Energies, Sepalumic, Skipper Macif, Vendee
Competing Nationalities: French, British, Spanish
Current weather conditions for the start 21.04.12 –  NW winds of up to 20 knots

 Artemis 23 race towards 3rd position nearing the second mark © Artemis Offshore Academy

Artemis 23 race towards 3rd position nearing the second mark © Artemis Offshore Academy

Sam Goodchild and Conrad Colman Win Leg 2 of The Global Ocean Race On Their Class40 (Photo courtesy of Global Ocean Race)

Sam Goodchild and Conrad Colman Win Leg 2 of The Global Ocean Race On Their Class40 (Photo courtesy of Global Ocean Race)

At 08:20:40 GMT (21:20:40 local) on Friday 30 December, the youngest team in the double-handed, Class40 Global Ocean Race (GOR), 28 year-old Kiwi, Conrad Colman and his 22 year-old, British co-skipper, Sam Goodchild, crossed the GOR’s Leg 2 finish line in Wellington Harbour, New Zealand, in first place on their Akilaria RC2 Class40, Cessna Citation after 30 days 22 hours 20 minutes and 40 seconds, netting the maximum of 30 points for Leg 2.

Colman and Goodchild rounded Cape Farewell at the northern tip of South Island at 14:00 GMT on Thursday (03:00 local on Friday), fighting against headwinds. With Cook Strait set for a 40-50 knot south-easterly blast, potentially gusting to 60 knots, the stretch of water separating South Island from North Island was not a location to be caught in. For the two leading, double-handed Global Ocean Race Class40s, Cessna Citation and BSL, there was no option and life became increasingly tough for the two teams. Fleet leaders Conrad Colman and Artemis Offshore Academy sailor, Sam Goodchild, with Cessna Citation tacked hard in 35 knots of south-easterly wind in extremely ugly seas ahead of the main gale, sailing close to d’Urville Island and Port Gore on the northern tip of South Island before they attacked the 14-mile wide wind funnel at the narrowest part of the strait between Cape Terrawhiti on North Island and Perano Head on Arapawa Island in Marlborough Sound at 06:00 GMT on Friday with 18 miles remaining to the finish line.

One hour later, as the wind built to 45 knots, Cessna Citation barrelled through the 2km-wide entrance to Wellington Harbour between Pencarrow Head and the Miramar Peninsular in torrential rain and grey, rolling waves as daylight faded fast. Colman and Goodchild left the partially exposed Barrett Reef to port and crossed the GOR Leg 2 finish line off Worser Bay on the harbour’s western shore taking victory in Leg 2. GOR Race Officials boarded Cessna Citation via the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club’s support RIB, congratulated the co-skippers and swiftly checked the engine seal fitted in Cape Town was still intact and the Class40 continued to her mooring in Queen’s Wharf for reunions and celebrations in the relentless Wellington downpour.

Surrounded by friends and family on the wet, slick, wooden quayside, Conrad Colman was one of the happiest men on North Island: “It’s the legend of the youg’uns!” he laughed. “It’s absolutely fantastic and it can’t get much better than this,” adds Colman. “I’ve been wanting to sail in a race into New Zealand since I was six years-old when I watched Fisher & Paykel and Steinlager 2 match race down the coast, so not only racing into New Zealand, but winning is really something special.” His British co-skipper was relieved to be ashore: “The Indian Ocean isn’t the problem, it’s Cook Strait that’s the issue,” admitted Goodchild with a broad grin. “The last 12 hours have been pretty horrific.”

One of the really remarkable features of Colman and Goodchild’s partnership is their recent acquaintance: “We met each other a few days before the start of the race and pretty much shook hands on the start line,” explains Colman. “We did a lot of things on the fly, but we shared all the responsibilities and it worked really well.” Sam Goodchild agrees: “We come from two different sailing backgrounds with myself in the Figaro Class and Conrad in the Mini 6.50s and it just worked out well,” he says. “I never, ever expected that we’d win and it’s a massive bonus.”

For the victorious young duo, the GOR’s Leg 2 began well and Cessna Citation was among the leaders in the early stages as the five Class40s dropped south immediately after leaving Cape Town and skated along the GOR’s Western Indian Ocean Ice Limit at 42S. However, her uninterrupted lead of the GOR fleet began on 9th December shortly before Colman and Goodchild took maximum points at the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate, running north-south and bisecting the Indian Ocean at 069E. As Cessna Citation crossed the scoring gate 220 miles north of the virtual line’s southern limit at Kerguelen Island, Colman and Goodchild, Campagne de France and BSL were separated by just 30 miles and Cessna Citation and BSL immediately dropped sharply south to 48S before the two boats climbed north to reach the western end of the Australian Ice Limit at 45S.

Clearing the eastern end of the limit, Cessna Citation dropped south once again using perfect positioning in a cold front with 35 knots of breeze setting a new GOR Class40 24-hour distance run of 359.1 miles and building a lead of over 245 miles. Despite running into light airs and watching their lead diminish as they approached New Zealand, Colman and Goodchild held their nerve through the horrors of Cook Strait and kept pushing hard until the finish gun.

Mark Blomfield, one of Cessna’s European distributors and a mainstay of Colman’s GOR campaign will be travelling to rendezvous with the boat in Wellington: “I am very sorry that I’m unable to be in Wellington at the moment to welcome Cessna Citation and a pair of very courageous and skillful young men who make us and Cessna very proud to be their sponsor and supporter,” says Blomfield. “They have won a long and very arduous Leg 2 in the Global Ocean Race against some highly experienced crews and it is worthy of note that they only met five days before the start!” he adds. “Also, our thanks and appreciation to Mike Thrower who is the owner of this fast and very reliable Class40 yacht and who has been a wonderful supporter of the team and the GOR.”

As Conrad Colman, Sam Goodchild and friends and family enjoy celebrations at Rydges Hotel near the GOR Race Pontoons, much of the group’s talk concerns Ross and Campbell Field in second place on BSL who will encounter the full-force of the Cook Strait gale overnight. In the 11:00 GMT position poll, the New Zealand father-and-son duo are 126 miles from the finish line and 12 miles from Cape Farewell where they will turn east and head directly into 40-45 knots for the final, hard miles through the confines of the strait.

GOR leadeboard at 11:00 GMT 30 December:
1.    Cessna Citation 30d 22h 20m 40s
2.    BSL DTF 126 4.6kts
3.    Campagne de France DTL 95 5.6kts
4.    Financial Crisis DTL 363 10.6kts
5.    Phesheya-Racing DTL 451 4.8kts

GOR cumulative Leg 1 and Leg 2 points excluding Leg 2 finish:
1.    BSL: 39 (4 points at the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate)
2.    Campagne de France: 36 points (5 points at the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate)
3.    Financial Crisis: 27 (3 points at the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate)
4.    Cessna Citation: 24 (6 points at the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate)
5.    Phesheya-Racing: 14 (2 points at the Celox Sailing Scoring Gate)
6.    Sec. Hayai: 6 (RTD from Leg 2)

GOR POINTS SYSTEM EXPLANATION:
The time limit at a finishing line (not a scoring gate) will be 12 days after the first boat has finished, after which time any yacht not finished or retired will be scored DNF.
Scoring Gate Points: A multiplication factor of 1 will apply.
e.g With a 6 boat fleet – winner receives 6 points; second place receives 5 points, third place receives 4 points, last place receives 1 point.
Leg Points: A multiplication factor of 5 will apply.
e.g With a 6 boat fleet – winner receives 30 points, second place receives 25 points, third place receives 20 points, last place receives 5 points.

by Oliver Dewar

Ned Collier Wakefield and twenty-one year old Sam Goodchild  (Photo copyright Team Concise)

The only all-British crew in this year’s Transat Jacques Vabre can’t wait to get racing. With just ten days to go, supercharged are heading for the start-line in France. Twenty-three year old Ned Collier Wakefield and twenty-one year old Sam Goodchild.
The duo are the youngest crew ever to take part in the iconic double-handed ocean classic that runs from Le Havre, France to Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. It’s over 4500 miles of some of the roughest passages in the world. This will be the longest, hardest and most prestigious race both sailors have ever done.

The last two weeks have been spent training and carrying out final preparations to their Class 40 boat, Concise 2 in Hamble.

Sam Goodchild: “Training in the Solent has been going well. It’s been short but intense. We’ve combined fine tuning of boat-work with carefully stocking Concise with the food and spares we need for the race. We have also had some serious medical checks.We were both wired up for an ECG last week to make sure we’re fit enough for the race and had no hidden weaknesses The good news is we both passed!”

Sam and Ned will be living on a mixture of freeze-dried and boil-in-the-bag meals as well as 800 calorie super porridge for breakfast. Snacks of dried fruit, nuts. and energy bars will supplement their diets. They’ve got enough food onboard for 25 days but they hope the race will take no more than 23. After that it’s short rations..

Ned Collier Wakefield: “I’m eating a lot of carbs right now! Eight thousand calories a day. When I did the Round Britain and Ireland race I lost 10 kilos in 9 days! When we’re offshore we should be eating a minimum of 4000 calories a day and when cold and wet that should increase to 6000 ”.

The race will be a massive test for these young sailors. For Sam, it’s his first ever transatlantic race and the first double-handed transatlantic race for Ned.

Ned Collier Wakefield: “We will be on a flexible watch system. Depending on the conditions and point of sail there will be at least one of us on deck at all times. Both of us will be on deck for every race maneuver such as sail changes. Damage to a sail could mean the end of the race for us, so we have to be careful.”

Sam Goodchild: “We’ll sleep on our giant waterproof beanbag. We try to get 3-4 hours of sleep a day depending on the conditions but if it cuts up rough we could go for days without proper rest.

There are 16 boats in their class but Concise 2 is the only one using the North Sails 3Di technology. With it’s state off the art pilot system, sophisticated navigational equipment and determined crew, Concise 2 is looking for a good result.

Ned Collier Wakefield: “Although we’re racing against many other Class 40s there are subtle differences between us, our challenge is not to match the other boats but to beat them!”
Concise  (Photo copyright Team Concise)

Concise (Photo copyright Team Concise)

The 46 Solitaire du Figaro skippers © Artemis Offshore Academy

The 46 Solitaire du Figaro skippers © Artemis Offshore Academy

The fourth and final 430-mile leg of the 2011 Solitaire du Figaro starts tomorrow (Sunday 21/08/11 at 11:00 BST) from Les Sables d’Olonne (France), home to the start of the legendary solo, non-stop round the world Vendée Globe race. For the British Artemis Offshore Academy sailors Sam Goodchild (Artemis), Phil Sharp (The Spirit of Independence) and Conrad Humphreys (DMS) this has been their first experience of the Solitaire du Figaro; however, for Nigel King (E-Line Orthodontics) it is his third time in this highly competitive race.

As expected, it has been a steep learning curve for the first-timers, as they deal with the challenges of racing solo in such a competitive field on short and demanding offshore courses. Not surprisingly, some harsh lessons have been learnt along the way which is all part of the learning process and the main reason for being part of the Solitaire du Figaro as the British sailors strive to carve out their own solo careers.

Sharp, who has competed in other demanding solo races like the solo transatlantic Route du Rhum, has been placed in the top ten for most of the legs so far and is chasing the top spot in the ‘Rookie’ class: “ There’s only 40 minutes (between me and the leader of the rookie class) and a lot could happen in this last leg,” explains Sharp. “If you miss a tide gate then potentially you could lose two hours, so it’s going to be important to be in touch with the front of the fleet as we go around and capitalise on any change in the weather we see.”

This leg takes the fleet of 46 one-design Figaro boats from Les Sables d’Olonne around the Brittany coast to finish in Dieppe next Wednesday. The fleet of solo offshore sailors will battle it out against each other for quickest time with the winner of the Solitaire du Figaro being the sailor with the lowest accumulated time after competing in the four legs.

Looking forward to the next leg Humphreys explained: “The final leg is an epic coastal challenge. Both Ille de Yeu and Belle Isle must be left to port which limits the option to head more offshore and keeps the fleet together close to the coast. The main decision will be when to leave the North Brittany coast to head offshore towards Alderney as the routing suggests, although the weather models are not in agreement.”

Conrad Humphreys poses for photos with fans © Artemis Offshore Academy

Spending a few days in Les Sables d’Olonne has had Humphreys’ reminiscing about his previous participation in the Vendée Globe whilst the other three can only dream about their long-term aim of competing in a future edition of the Vendée Globe. “It was the start of the Vendée race in 2004 that really inspired me to try to do a Figaro,” said King. “I want to do a competitive Vendée Globe campaign in the future – that’s always been the ambition from day one. There’s definitely a different atmosphere at this port, there’s a special connection to offshore sailing here. Everywhere you go there are videos, photographs, the restaurants and bars have pictures of Vendée Globe skippers, so it’s a nice pick-you-up to everyone who aspires to do that race.”

The month-long, four-leg Solitaire du Figaro is seen as the main training ground for sailors wanting to enter the Vendée Globe in years to come. It’s the biggest race 21-year old Sam Goodchild, the youngest competitor in the fleet and winner of the Artemis Offshore Academy scholarship, has ever done: “It’s good to be racing against some of the top guys who are here and learning from them, it just makes the experience a whole lot more beneficial for me. It’s not just another sailing regatta, it’s got so much more to it than that – learning about your boat, learning about yourself, learning about everything really. It’s got so much more to it than I ever imagined, it’s gone way over my expectations.”

Britain’s Samantha Davies, who competed in the last Vendée Globe capturing the hearts of the public and media in both the UK and France along the way, has also competed in the Solitaire du Figaro four times. She and Nigel King both achieved a sixth place leg finish – the best result for the British in this French dominated race.  Davies appreciates first-hand what the sailors are going through: “For me it’s probably the hardest sailing race that’s available on the planet. The fact that it’s single-handed obviously makes it pretty extreme to start with. But I think it’s the intensity of the race, you’re just accumulating fatigue, mental and physical tiredness from thinking about tactics, strategy and weather all the time.”