Artemis Offshore Academy Scholarship was created to provide a UK training programme of excellence for British short-handed sailors, providing a structure to bring talented sailors up through the ranks. Designed to help them win major offshore solo and short-handed races in the future, the ultimate goal is to put a British sailor in a strong position to win the Vendée Globe in 2016 or 2020.
The first Development Squad members training with the Artemis Offshore Academy are also in a race to win the first Scholarship to be awarded to one candidate, and with the decision on who that be only four weeks away, the excitement is building within the Squad.
Who’s going to win? The Scholarship will see one Academy member fully supported to compete in the 2011 Figaro season, including the notoriously competitive Solitaire du Figaro, and is wide open. The talent in the Development Squad is so high that it is going to be a tough battle right to the end.
John Thorn Performance Director gives an insight into the selection process: 'It is fair to say that the intensity of competition for the Artemis Offshore Academy sailors has picked up a gear now with the commencement of our own indicator series of races. Whilst the intensity has picked up, so has the performance and I think all squad members feel they are making very good progress alongside the more experienced French Figaro sailors with some pretty respectable results. Like all sailors I am a little superstitious and there is a long way to go yet, so before someone mentions the well proportioned opera singer and her final aria…I will stop right there!'
'The final decision for the Scholarship will probably go down to the wire and it is then that the selection board will have their work cut out to make a very tough decision. Race results, fitness, communication skills, commercial ability to secure future campaign-backing sponsors plus a few ‘must haves’ such as some French language ability and a test of both navigation and seamanship skills encompassed in the RYA Yachtmaster Offshore exam, all count towards the final decision. It would be no exaggeration to say that the Development Squad has their work cut out. We are all watching with anticipation to see how the Scholarship unfolds as it heats up dramatically amongst the sailors.'
Artemis Offshore Academy member Nick Cherry explains how much the Scholarship means: 'As far as prizes go this one is up there… A place in the Solitaire du Figaro this summer along with the rest of the solo circuit, with full coaching and a support programme, a choice of sail maker and funding to ensure we can be as competitive as possible. A selection committee made up of big hitters from the world of sailing led by selection committee chairman and Artemis Offshore Academy Advisory Board member Rod Carr will decide the Scholarship winner.'
'In terms of race performance, three separate series are being run simultaneously with 10-15 inshore races of around an hour each with a multiplier of one, four to five longer coastal races of around 24 hours with a multiplier of three and then, crucially, up to three solo offshore races carrying a multiplier of five. These results also include up to 11 extra French skippers who can’t win the Scholarship but can certainly put us through our paces on the race course.
'Having completed three inshore and two coastal races we are approximately 15% through the series. I am currently lying a close second to Phil Sharp with Sam Goodchild having made a convincing start to the inshore series with three wins. Next up is three inshore races where the forecast looks windy and then a 200 mile race over to Marseilles and on to an offshore buoy.'
John Thorn and Artemis Offshore Academy Associate member Pip Hare have been invited to talk at the Solo Racing Festival held at the Royal Southern Yacht Club on Sunday 13th March 2011. John will be sharing the ground breaking developments that the Artemis Offshore Academy is making in developing solo offshore British sailors. Pip Hare will be talking about her involvement with the Academy as an Associate member and how it has provided her with a unique training opportunity, access to world class coaches and ensuring her Mini campaign every possible success. www.artemisonline.co.uk