Gran Premio d’Italia 2013 has concluded. With light winds forecast for the regatta, it was always going to be more ‘3,2,1, - drift off’, than lift off. However, after five days and 17 hours of trying to fill their sails with every breath of wind, sole British duo, Artemis Offshore Academy Mini skipper Nikki Curwen and Graduate Ollie Bond finished the 300-mile race in Genova, Italy amongst the top 10 finishers, claiming fifth place in the Series boat division and ninth place overall out of a field of 28.
Nikki and Ollie aboard Mini 438 race against the impressive Italian backdrop © Italian Yacht Club
'This was a great result for us…' enthused Nikki. 'We were switching between sailing upwind, downwind, across the wind and even backwards every 10 minutes! We zipped through our arsenal of sails, dropping and hoisting a new one at what felt like every two seconds - it was great practice.'
With two races down Nikki now has one to go, the 290nm Fuel Cell Systems UK Solent 6.50 starting on 5 May, before she will have accumulated the full 1000 race miles needed to qualify for the epic Mini Transat 6.50 in October, a race colorfully compared by the Italian Class Mini to ‘a fleet of walnut shells crossing the Atlantic.’ After giving up her home, job and life in the UK to make her mark on the Class Mini circuit, it is Nikki’s dream to compete in the epic race and follow in the footsteps of her father, Simon Curwen and, arguably the most famous female offshore sailor in the world, Ellen MacArthur who too started her career in the Mini Class.