In the Marine Macif 2012, a total of five Artemis Offshore Academy sailors took on their very first Figaro race of the season, going up against an impressive roll call of French sailing Figaro stars.
The five Artemis Offshore Academy soloists had a great start to the race season
For Ollie Bond, Nick Cherry, Aaron Cooper and Henry Bomby it was their first ever solo Figaro race and they returned to the finish port of Les Sables d’Olonne having faced the harsh realities of racing at the sharp end. Sam Goodchild, winner of the Academy scholarship last year and with some solid race experience now under his belt, was determined not to ‘get psyched out’ by the big names and finished in a satisfying eighth place out of 29 competitors:
'Finishing in the top ten was fantastic as I didn’t expect that to happen,' reported Sam as he finished just 18 minutes and 55 seconds behind the overall winner. 'It was a real morale boost to be able to keep speed with some of the top guys at times.'
This year’s edition of the Solo Figaro Marine Massif was won by Gildas Mahé in 24 hours, 12 minutes and 45 seconds. Despite the tricky weather conditions dominated by fog and light winds delayed the start by 24 hours to Friday (16th March), and reduced the original 320 mile course to just 120 miles, Goodchild delivered a strong performance whilst Ollie Bond finished second in the ‘Rookie’ division and 17th overall.
The mission for all the Artemis Offshore Academy ‘rookies’ was to complete the race and learn as much as they could from their first real race experience:
'The squad can be proud of themselves,' said Academy Performance Director, John Thorn.
'It is an impressive feat to successfully complete the race, as well securing some promising results.' Aaron Cooper finished in 22nd place despite losing his autopilot in the final stage of the race, Nick Cherry 23rd and Henry Bomby 28th who rather than being deflated was rallied by the experience: 'Never give up - even when it’s really tough!'
The Academy soloists have had a steep learning curve in their first official solo Figaro race realising for the first time how tough it can be: 'Going around the top mark in second to last place was awful,' said Ollie Bond before fighting his way back into the game. 'I learnt how intense the Figaro is and that you’ve got to fight for every second because at the end of the race every boat length counts.'
The Artemis Offshore Academy squad are now back into training mode with all the sailors having different areas of expertise to work on before the next race. Looking forward to the next race, the Solo Concarneau in May, Aaron commented: 'I can’t wait to do it again!'
The next race for Sam Goodchild and Nick Cherry will be the Transat AG2R La Mondiale starting on the 21st May from Concarneau, France to St Barths in Caribbean – a double-handed transatlantic race and one of the premier races of the season. 'I am really happy with this start to the season,' explained Sam.
'It’s good to feel that I have made improvements since last year, but at the same time I am aware it is still the Figaro and it could easily go both ways for the next one. The next race is a completely different ball game. I am really looking forward to the challenge and happy to be able to take it on with Nick.'
Nick Cherry: 'The first three or four hours were the best as I was in the leading pack and I rounded the first mark in fifth. I was also surprised that my boat speed was quite good upwind in the light conditions. However I quickly went from hero to zero as after it got dark pretty much the whole fleet sailed past me when I got stuck in a hole.'
'I learnt that I need more practice sailing in the dark and I need better lights, as well as realising I need to get my electronics sorted so I have more instrument data to rely on when it’s dark.'
Aaron Cooper: 'Coming round the first mark in the top ten was really nice after a tricky upwind leg. Going around the last top mark and the pilot failing and having to do the last part of the race without it downwind was the most testing part.'
'I learnt that you have to manage the whole boat really well; you’ve got to learn when to push the boat really hard and when to rest. I was happy with how fast I was upwind as I had a good upwind performance.'
Henry Bomby: 'Keeping with the good guys and their pace for a while, although not for long enough and not consistently over the race, were my high points. The start and coming round L’ile-d’Yeu were my lowest parts of the race. I’ve got a lot of stuff I want to work on now.'
'Try and keep the boat at a consistent speed as I would have a good speed for 10 minutes, but I need to work on having the same speed for the whole leg. Even when the good guys are behind you, you know that they are about to overtake you.'
Ollie Bond: 'I did some good sailing through the night and caught back up with the other guys to get back into the race. The finish was really exciting as I was next to two other boats with a good run to the line, and I just managed to pip them to the line!'
'It’s interesting that I don’t feel too bad as I didn’t sleep last night as the wind kept shifting last night, which I managed to handle ok. Normally I would try and get a few sleeps during the night but missing them out was ok as it was just one night as I didn’t make too many errors.'
Sam Goodchild: 'It was good to know that I have improved since the last race. When racing you have to remember not to get annoyed by the fact you have no wind, because 30 minutes later you’ll have it and someone else won’t, you also have to remember that you must never give up - but that’s Figaro racing.'
'I didn’t put any expectations on where I would finish as I just went out to do as well as I could, so to have Figaro winners in front and behind me was quite encouraging. Hopefully I can keep it up through the year and be this competitive at the rest of the events.'
Results - finish times
1 - Gildas Mahé (Vendee 1) – 10:20:45
2 - Yann Eliès (Morbic) – 10:26:08
3 - Fabien Delahaye (Skipper Macif 2012) – 10:28:20
4 – Nicolas Lunven (Generali) – 10:30:30
5 - Morgan Lagravière (Vendee) - 10:31:39
6 - Erwan Tabarly (Nacarat) - 10:35:45
7 - Paul Meilhat (Skipper Macif 2011) - 10:36:10
8 - Sam Goodchild (Artemis 23) - 10:39:40
9 – David Sineau (Britanie Cosmetiques) - 10:40:05
10 – Fred Duthil (Sepalumic) - 10:40:42
11 – Alexis Loison (VDC Offshore) - 10:44:23
12 – Thomas Ruyant (Destination Dunkerque) - 10:44:30
13 – Corentin Horeau (Bretagne Credit Mutuel Espoir) - 10:44:58
14 – Yoann Richomme (DLBC) - 10:45:53
15 – Vincent Biarnes (Prati’Buches) - 10:47:30
16 – Damien Guillou (La SoliDariteE Mutualiste) - 10:48:48
17 – Oliver Bond (Artemis 43) - 10:50:18
18 – Isabelle Joschke (Galettes ST Michel) - 10:50:20
19 – Jeanne Grégoire (Banque Populaire) - 10:50:21
20 – Didier Bouillard (Jehol) - 10:52:00
21 – Thomas Normand (Financiere De L’echiquier) - 10:53:20
22 – Aaron Cooper (Artemis 21) - 10:57:21
23 – Nick Cherry (Artemis 77) – 11:02:49
24 – Anthony Marchand (Bretagne Credit Mutuel Performance) – 11:06:40
25 – Kristin Songe Moller (Kristin – For Fulle Seil) – 11:09:13
26 – Nicolas Jossier (In Estenso Experts Comptables) – 11:12:23
27 – Michel Bothuon (Les Recycleurs Bretons) – 11:15:01
28 – Henry Bomby (Artemis 37) – 11:18:01
29 - Germain Kerleveo/J.S. Henry (Ville De Vannes – ClownN A L’Hopital) – 11:18:05
Rookie Class Results
1st – Corentin Horeau (Bretagne Credit Mutuel Espoir) - 10:44:58
2nd – Oliver Bond (Artemis 43) - 10:50:18
3rd – Thomas Normand (Financiere De L’echiquier) - 10:53:20
4th– Aaron Cooper (Artemis 21) - 10:57:21
5th– Nick Cherry (Artemis 77) – 11:02:49
6th – Kristin Songe Moller (Kristin – For Fulle Seil) – 11:09:13
7th – Henry Bomby (Artemis 37) – 11:18:01
Artemis Offshore Academy website