In a couple of weeks, Artemis Offshore Academy sailors Jack Bouttell and Ed Hill will not only take on the Academy graduate trio of Nick Cherry, Sam Goodchild and Henry Bomby, but will also have the chance to measure themselves against the cream of the single-handed Figaro crop, as Armel Le Cléac'h, who finished second in the Vendée Globe, Nicolas Lunven, Jérémie Beyou, Gilles Le Baud and Yann Eliés are announced in the line-up for the 320nm Solo Arrimer on the 11th April.
Henry, Jack and Ed are gunning to start
Solo Arrimer will be the second race in the Academy’s 2013 calendar and it already looks set to be an exciting race with five of the best solo offshore sailors on the circuit heading for the start line amongst the fleet of an expected 25 competitors.
At the young age of 26, Nicolas won the Solitaire du Figaro back in 2009, while Armel (2003/2010), Jérémie (2005/2011) and Gilles (1973/1978) have all won the prestigious race twice, totaling seven Solitaire du Figaro wins between the four skippers. It has also been announced today, Thursday 28th March, that 2012 Solitaire du Figaro winner Yann Eliés will be joining the impressive Solo Arrimer line up.
Ed Hill looks forward to learning from the best
'Racing against such a tough field, which includes the likes of Jérémie Beyou, Nicolas Lunven, Yann Eliés and Armel Le Cléac'h, will be a real indicator of my performance and ability, and also how much more I need to improve in order to be in contention with the best,' explained Ed. 'It will also be great fun to race against the Artemis Offshore Academy graduates, Sam Goodchild, Henry Bomby and Nick Cherry, who have more experience than Jack and myself, but I'm hoping that is not going to show!'
As well as boasting impressive results on the Class Figaro circuit, both Armel and Jérémie were part of the line-up for this year’s Vendée Globe, an epic 24,000nm non-stop round the world race. After chasing François Gabart across the globe in just 78 days, five hours, 33 minutes and 52 seconds to finish in second place in the 2013 Vendée Globe, Armel is now returning to the Figaro class after two years away. He will be competing in the Solitaire du Figaro this year, however, he has admitted that he expects a few things to have changed since he last skippered the 33ft racer: 'It’s been two years since I have sailed a Figaro Bénéteau II and I think the set up may have changed a little since then, especially the sails. The Solo Arrimer will be a great trial run and I look forward to challenging my main opponents, Jérémy, Nicolas and many others..'
Academy rookie Jack Bouttell gets set for the second race of his season, Solo Arrimer
To be on the start line with such a high caliber of competition will be an invaluable learning experience for Academy rookies Jack and Ed as they will be able to learn from the best throughout the race. The 320nm race will be their longest non-stop solo race to date and as well as Armel, Jérémie, Nicolas, Yann and Gilles, the two Academy skippers and three graduates will race four skippers from the Centre d'Entrainement Méditerranée in La Grande Motte, including Xavier Macaire, winner of the first race of the season, the ICOM Cup Médittérranée in March.
With just two weeks to the day until the start of the exciting Solo Arrimer on 11th April, Jack, Ed and Nick have now touched down in Les Sables d’Olonne and are busily preparing their boats for a fortnight of intensive Atlantic training, working to refine their performance in harsher conditions, a rougher sea state and tide.
Artemis Offshore Academy website