At the conclusion of the Solo Concarneau last week a wave of joy and relief washed over Artemis Offshore Academy skippers Ed Hill and Jack Bouttell , before an even bigger wave of reality hit, as both Artemis sailors were told they had been selected to compete in the 2013 Solitaire du Figaro.
This prestigious race beginning on June 2nd from Bordeaux, France, is the pinnacle event in the Class Figaro calendar, attracting some of the very best solo sailors in the world. Both Ed and Jack have given their all in the first part of their solo season to date, with the epic 1,938-mile Solitaire du Figaro being everything that they have been working towards.
'It was amazing to be told that all of our hard work this season had paid off and that we would be competing in the Solitaire du Figaro,' said a delighted Jack. 'It was also a great relief, but that feeling lasted only seconds because after taking the call, the enormity of my participation in the race sunk in. We’ve been preparing as if we were going to race in the Solitaire, but there remains a million things to do before we are ready to race on the 2nd of June.'
After being selected to join the ranks of the Artemis Offshore Academy in September last year, life has been put on hold for Ed and Jack as they threw themselves whole-heartedly into the baptism of fire that was learning to sail solo on the one-design Figaro Bénéteau II. Relocating to France in late November, sacrifices were made and normality became a thing of the past, with Ed leaving behind not only a house and a job, but also a very patient fiancée.
'I’m ecstatic to have proven enough to the selection team for an entry into the Solitaire du Figaro,' Ed enthused. 'It seemed touch and go at times as to whether I would achieve the goal and my season so far has been a roller coaster of Figaro highs and lows. But making it to the Solitaire start line has made all of the pain and sacrifices worth it and the wedding is still on!'
Ed and Jack are part of the six skipper ‘Anglo-Irish allegiance’ facing an elite French line-up in this year’s race. Sam Goodchild, Henry Bomby and Nick Cherry, all Academy graduates, will all once again be on the start line racing within their own campaigns, while still receiving some support from the Academy. They are now joined by Rookies Ed, Jack and ‘Full Irish’ skipper David Kenefick, who are among 40 boats currently entered in the race so far for 2013.
'Our earlier indicator races, the ICOM Cup Meditérranée, the Solo Arrimer and the Solo Concarneau, gave us the opportunity to measure ourselves against the majority of the Solitaire fleet,' continued Ed, 'which includes the likes of Michel Desjoyeaux, Yann Elies, Armel Le Cléac’h and Jérémie Beyou, who are all looking to take home another Solitaire win this year. We’ve all had our moments keeping up with the ‘big boys’ of the Figaro class now, and so we all now know just how tough staying in contention during the race will be.'
'Winning the Rookie division in the Solo Arrimer was a great achievement for me this season,' added Jack. 'But I am under no illusions as to the challenges that the Solitaire du Figaro presents and that we have yet to face in terms of sleep deprivation, physical exhaustion and more miles to cover. It’s going to be a huge learning curve and my aim right now, whilst keeping one eye on the Rookie podium, is to just make it around the course in touch with the fleet and in one piece.'
If you’d like to follow in the footsteps of Ed, Jack, Sam, Nick and Henry, you think you have what it takes to push your body to the edges of human limitation and enjoy a regular head to toe dowsing of salt-water, then perhaps going SOLO with the Artemis Offshore Academy is for you. Applications for the UK based Artemis Offshore Academy Selection Trials, taking place over the 18th – 21st July 2013, are now open. For the full application criteria and more on life in the Academy, click the apply button, top left on our website.
To apply for the Artemis Offshore Academy and to follow Ed, Jack and their Anglo-Saxon team mates in the build up to the Solitaire du Figaro, visit our website.