sail-world.com -- Great start for Artemis Offshore Academy Mini sailor Nikki Curwen
Great start for Artemis Offshore Academy Mini sailor Nikki Curwen
Tue, 19 Mar 2013
On Saturday 16th March, Artemis Offshore Academy Mini sailor Nikki Curwen completed her first solo race of her career, the Solo Roma-Solo Race in seventh overall, out of a fleet of 15, and also finished fifth in the Series boat rankings. It was a solid start to the Mini season for Nikki, as she pursues her place in the super competitive Mini Transat later this year.
Crossing the finish line of the 120 mile race at around 1300 GMT, the only British and only female competitor in the race, Nikki was pleased with her performance and with her first experience racing on the Class Mini circuit: 'It was a great race with varying conditions ranging from 0-28kts throughout, so it was really testing and I learned a lot. It is very different atmosphere when racing compared to training. I was very happy with my speed on the other boats and I am looking forward to the next race in April.'
'To finish top half of the fleet in her first race on the Mini Circuit was a great result for Nikki,' commented Academy Performance Director John Thorn. 'As always with the Artemis Offshore Academy's initial races in the year, the Solo Roma-Solo Race was above all a learning experience. This race was also the first race in the Italian Mini 6.50 Championships and the second in the 2013 Class Mini calendar, and was a great opportunity for Nikki to measure herself against experienced Mini sailors. Nikki's result was a promising start to her season and one that should help her gain confidence going into her next race.'
Setting off from Fiumicino, Rome on Friday 15th March, the original 190-mile Solo Roma-Solo Race course was shortened due to bad weather and instead ran 120 miles around the local island of Polmarola and back again. The 15 competing Mini sailors started the race downwind at 1200 GMT in around seven knots of breeze: 'Downwind starts are always interesting and it certainly took me back to my dinghy days,' Nikki recalled. 'Two or three boats, me included, managed to hoist on the gun and stormed ahead.'
After propelling her to way to the front of the fleet, Nikki remained within the top five leading boats for the majority of the race, until on the final approach to the finishline, she made one final decision that didn’t quite pay off: 'I tacked away from Jeffery McFarlane at the latter stage of the race and he went on to win. In hindsight, he definitely made the better decision but I didn't think there would be much wind inshore and stayed offshore. My decision resulted in me sitting in a patch of no wind for two hours just sat looking my own reflection, ten miles from the finish line. It was quite painful watching everyone else sail by, but these things happen and I'll learn from my mistakes.
'It was a great first race, but it was a challenging race demanding the use of all three spinnakers and despite a few minor errors, I enjoyed every minute of it! My strategy for this first race was to just get around the course safely and I managed this and I am happy with my result overall.'
With her first race under her belt and 120 miles in the bank, Nikki now continues with her objective to qualify for the 4020 mile Mini Transat 6.50 starting on 13th October. In order to qualify, Nikki needs to accumulate 1000 race miles (can be double-handed and solo) as well as completing a 1000-mile solo qualifying passage, which she hopes to do at the end of this week - sailing 1300nm from Rome to Genova, Italy. On arriving in Genova, Nikki will be ready for her second scheduled race of her season, the 540-mile double-handed Gran Premio d'Italia starting on the 13th April. Nikki will race with Academy graduate, Ollie Bond, an experienced Mini Transat 6.50 competitor who finished 10th overall in 2009.
For more on the Artemis Offshore Academy Mini 6.50 race programme, click here.