The Artemis Offshore Academy’s new Development Squad, Oliver Bond, Henry Bomby and Aaron Cooper, have started the short-handed winter training programme.
The three full-time Academy Development Squad members were picked from the Selection Trials in September and are now training in La Grande Motte - the French Figaro Centre d’Entrainement Méditerranée for the winter.
Sam Goodchild, who was awarded the Academy’s 2011 Figaro scholarship, has taken the lead in the double-handed 7,000nm leg two of the Global Ocean Race with co-skipper Conrad Colman. Out of the six Class 40 teams, one duo were forced to retire as they dismasted after only 24-hours at sea. The first three boats split tacks yesterday, with Goodchild and Colman staying to the north and taking the lead in a bold move to find better winds.
Meanwhile in La Grande Motte, Mike Hart, world champion sailor and RYA coach, has been training with the Development Squad this week: 'The focus for training at the moment is on boat handling and boat speed sessions, to give the sailors a solid base to work on more specific goals in the new year. They have been working hard with a full gym session before on the water training, so although the winds are light, the sailors have been working hard with 16 - 18 spinnaker hoists, drops and some gybes as well.'
'I am starting to gain more confidence in my manoeuvres, although I still have a lot of work to do! However, it is great to see some progress being made' reported Bomby.
Hart has had Artemis Offshore Academy graduate Nick Cherry on hand to aid training. Cherry who joined the Academy in the inaugural Development Squad has one season of Figaro race experience under his belt, providing vital knowledge for the new squad members whilst training.
One of the advantages of training at the Centre d’Entrainement Méditerranée is that the Development Squad can train with the seasoned French Figaro sailors. This helps accelerate the Squad’s learning curve as they get to know their competitors in this one-design class. 'It has been really interesting watching the French Figaro sailors on the water and listening to them in the debriefing as they have got so much experience,' said Cooper. 'I am looking forward to doing some double-handed training with the them before Christmas.'
The double-handed training will see the English and French working together in duos training and allowing both nationalities to share their knowledge and learn from each other.
The student Development Squad, a new addition to the Academy this year, is made up of Lizzy Foreman, Robert Gullan, Sam Matson and Robin Elsey. These sailors are training with the Academy whilst studying for their degrees. 'I am really enjoying being able to learn so much by working with the Artemis Offshore Academy' explained Elsey who has spent many hours working on the Academy Figaros and Mini at the UK base. 'The Figaro is the best boat that I have ever sailed!'
The Figaro is the boat of choice for entering the short-handed sailing arena and is one that many sailors often return to help them hone their solo sailing skills. French Figaro sailor Jeremie Beyou has competed in the Solitaire du Figaro 12 times, winning it this year for the second time. He then went on to win the double-handed Transat Jacques Varbe IMOCA division with Jean-Pierre Dick in November.
John Thorn, Artemis Offshore Academy Performance Director, is happy with how the Squad have commenced the winter training programme: 'The early training is going very well with activity both in the UK and in the south of France. Whilst we are still in, what you might call, the honeymoon period for the sailors it is clear that the squad is beginning to appreciate the task ahead and the long road to be travelled.'
The sailors all have individual training programmes, which include not only short-handed racing but also meteorology, navigation, onboard systems, boat maintenance, sponsorship procurement, French language and fitness. Artemis Offshore Academy website