The Artemis Offshore Academy, sponsored by Artemis Investment Management LLP, Selection Trials for 2012 will be held from the 9th to 14th September for sixteen carefully chosen candidates selected from the pool of applicants. The Academy will be moving into its third year since it’s inception in 2010 and continues to strive towards producing world-class short-handed offshore sailors. The long-term aspiration of the Academy is to put a British sailor in a position to win the legendary solo Vendée Globe in the future.
The demanding Artemis Offshore Academy Selection Trials are an opportunity for sailors with an proven sailing background in any discipline of the sport, to prove they have what it takes to take on the rigors of short-handed offshore racing. 'Each group will have their strengths and weaknesses and it is the Academy's role to help those selected get to the point where they can compete at the highest level in solo offshore racing. There is no definitive number of places available and only those with the potential to succeed will be invited to join the 2013 Squad,' reported Artemis Offshore Academy Performance Director, John Thorn.
Some of the candidates selected to attend the Selection Trials do not have much ‘big boat’ or offshore experience but have a proven performance record in smaller Olympic class dinghies, the trials provide them with a unique opportunity to try this type of sailing in a pressured but controlled environment, in order to more fully understand the physical and mental demands required to compete in this arena. 'There was as usual a good standard of sailors to choose from, ranging from those who have already competed in global races to those coming from a high performance dinghy programme, to those with a very strong background in inshore yacht racing,' elaborated Thorn.
Selection Trials attendee, Mark Andrews, is a serious and competent world-class Olympic Finn Class competitor with a seventh at the 2012 Finn Worlds to prove it. Since 2007 Andrews has been part of the GBR Finn squad, a group that trained together and ultimately helped to produce Ben Ainslie’s fourth Olympic Gold Medal winning performance. An experienced singlehanded inshore racer, Andrews is now keen to step across and learn about solo offshore racing. He will be joined by Yacht and Powercraft Design undergraduate Alex Gardner aims to join the Artemis Offshore Academy Development Squad with his eyes fixed firmly on competing in the Solitaire du Figaro, a proven stepping-stone towards the Vendée Globe: 'The extreme challenges of offshore sailing is what appeals to me, pushing yourself to your limits. I am looking forward to learning and improving my own self management with the help of the Academy and being able to really get to grips with the Figaro, knowing it inside out and how to sail fast and learning all the fine tuning needed to do so. I am hoping to prove to the selection team that I’m worthy of a place in the Development Squad and I am looking forward to a tough 50 hour trial.' Meanwhile recent charity fundraiser sailor Ludo Bennet-Jones, who has just returned from sailing round Britain and Ireland in a Wayfarer dinghy, realises the exclusive opportunity the Academy can provide: 'The Artemis Offshore Academy is a giant push forward into the world of offshore racing, especially for young skippers. It’s a great opportunity to get out and compete as part of a well-rounded campaign.'
Artemis Offshore Academy sailor Henry Bomby who attended the Selection Trials twice before joining the Development Squad explains how he used his pre-trial nerves to his advantage: 'Before the Selection Trials I felt nervous, especially as joining the Academy was the only thing I wanted to do. I think it helped being a little nervous as I knew it was where I wanted to be and helped me to focus. Pacing yourself for the 50 hours during the trial is important as it simulates the intense solo offshore experience, with multiple challenges thrown at you at any hour of the day and night.'
The Artemis Offshore Academy has divided the 16 candidates into two groups with group A between the 9th and 11th and group B from the 12th and 14th September. The exact format of the trials, which changes every year, is a closely guarded secret and group A will have to keep the challenges secret so they do not provide an unfair advantage to group B. The various trials include a range of tests both on and off the water to examine each candidate’s knowledge, skill, and physical fitness, but more importantly their ability to ‘cope’ in these situations. The on the water based section of the trials - a series of double and single handed races, will be held onboard the Academy’s fleet of Figaro-Bénéteau II’s.
Group 1 - 9th to 12th September - Charlotte Lawrence, 25, Southampton - Mark Andrews, 26, Inverclyde - Luke Dampier, 22, Surrey - Olivier Vidal, 28, London - Ed Hill, 29, Southampton - Emma Pearson, 20, Warwick - Dyfrig Mon, 24, West Glamorgan - Jackson Bouttel, 21, Southampton
Group 2 – 12th to 14th September - Thomas Barker, 26, Berkshire - Hugh Brayshaw, 18, Dorset - Conrad Manning, 19, Southampton - Catherine Jordan, 22, Southampton - Scott Millar, 29, London - Ludo Bennet-Jones, 21, Oxford - Alex Gardner, 22, Southampton - Nikki Curwen, 23, Bournemouth