Artemis Offshore Academy.
Sam Goodchild, 21 from Southampton, was today announced as the winner of the first ever Artemis Offshore Academy Scholarship. The award aims to help him forge a competitive solo offshore racing career and follow in the footsteps of Britain’s most well-known and successful solo sailors like Dame Ellen MacArthur, Mike Golding, Samantha Davies and Dee Caffari.
'I am really excited about what there is to come,' said a jubilant Goodchild on hearing the news. 'My sailing dream has been to do a Vendée Globe. To be the first Brit to win would be amazing and getting this Scholarship from the Artemis Offshore Academy is another step towards that dream.'
As part of the ongoing year round training programme, this scholarship provides a fully funded season in a race-prepared Figaro boat, culminating in the 1695-mile solo challenge the ‘La Solitaire du Figaro’. The race, which starts in August, is considered to be the pinnacle French solo sailing event.
Born in Bristol, Sam was just two weeks old when he began life at sea. His first eight years were on a boat with his family in the Caribbean and after a year at school in Falmouth in the late nineties, he was back to Grenada for another five years. But the big hurricane in 2005 resulted in a return once more to the UK for school in land-locked Oxford. Since finishing school he has been based in Southampton but travelling the world working for sailing teams.
The Artemis Offshore Academy was created in June 2010 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.
Sam Goodchild won a place at the Artemis Offshore Academy Development Squad after impressing the judges at the first Selection Trials last September. The nine Development Squad members, including double Olympic medalist Simon Hiscocks, have been on an intensive training programme at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA) and at the Centre d’ Entertainment Mediterranée (CEM) the Figaro School based in La Grande Motte (south of France).
The sailors spent long hours training on the water in the five Artemis Figaro boats, and in the classrooms of the CEM, where they specialise in meteorology and race strategy. The squad also worked hard on their fitness, critical to the success of a short-handed sailor, who get little sleep when racing solo.
Selecting the Scholarship winner was not an easy as Rod Carr, ex-CEO Royal Yachting Association, explained: 'Each squad member had their own strengths and weaknesses and the final decision was close. Sam was strong in all the areas we were looking for; his spirit is that of a great solo sailor and we think he will be a fantastic competitor. He is a very talented young sailor and highly regarded by the French coaches as a talent for the future. He has proven himself capable of winning and, ultimately, had the right attitude that we believe will take him far.'
Sam will join Development Squad member, Nigel King, and Associate Sailor, Conrad Humphreys, who have both secured funding to campaign their own Figaro boats on the circuit this year. This trio will be the only Brits competing in the Solitaire du Figaro – considered to be a ‘rite of passage’ on the road to the Vendée Globe.
Returning to the UK in May, the remaining members of the Development Squad will continue the programme, training for and competing in a series of races throughout 2011, including the Rolex Fastnet Race and the Figaro Tour du Bretagne in September. John Thorn continued 'The Artemis Offshore Academy is not just about one winner each year. It’s about is laying the foundations and developing British solo sailing talent. So the work of the Academy continues for 2011 and beyond.'
The second round of Selection Trials for new young hopefuls will be held in September 2011 hosted at WPNSA and the opening date for registration is the second of May.
Edward Gorman, former sailing correspondent (now Deputy Foreign Editor) for The Times who sits on the Advisory Board concluded: 'The French have dominated Solo Ocean racing for too long and for good reason… They have put in place the right infrastructure and training facilities to ensure their sailors excel.
The Artemis Offshore Academy is the first time that the sport in Britain has taken serious steps to take them on and it’s very exciting that we’ve chosen Sam who we believe has the potential to one day become a great Vendée Globe competitor. It will be thrilling to watch his progress over the following months and years.'
The Academy is sponsored by Artemis, the investment fund management company, who has been backing British sailing since 2006. Official Partners Musto, Marlow and Pol Roger Champagne and Official Suppliers Spinlock and Nautix also support the Artemis Offshore Academy.
Artemis Offshore Academy website