All photos © Artemis Offshore Academy
The course map for leg one of the ICOM Cup Méditérranée, covering 160nm from La Grande Motte to Marseille via four race marks
Today, Thursday 7th March, marks the start of the first 2013 Figaro race for Artemis Offshore Academy sailors Jack Bouttell (Artemis 77) and Ed Hill (Artemis 37), who will set off at 15:00 CET as the starting gun is fired for leg one of their first competitive single-handed race, the ICOM Cup Méditérranée. Also sailing under the Artemis flag for his first race of the season is Academy graduate Henry Bomby (Artemis 23), with fellow graduate Nick Cherry acting as préparateur. This three-stage race will see the Academy skippers line up against some high caliber Figaro sailors as they embark on six days of solo offshore and coastal racing, covering 400nm between La Grande Motte and Marseille in France. Current weather conditions for the race start are a light south-easterly breeze set to build as the day goes on, with wind speeds topping out at 25kts over the first part of the course, before a shift at around 10:00 CET tomorrow morning to the north-west.
"There is a high caliber of Class Figaro skippers taking part in the race and if our British Academy sailors were to achieve a mid-fleet position it would be a great finish," explained John Thorn, Performance Director at the Artemis Offshore Academy. "However, for Jack and Ed it is their first single-handed offshore race and it will be a steep learning curve. This is the first race of the season for all three sailors and provides a chance for them to get to grips with the 2013 class competition whilst putting their winter training into action."
Twelve skippers will line up on the start line later today, including 2012 ICOM Cup winner Xavier Macaire who finished an impressive 10th overall in the 2012 Solitaire du Figaro as a rookie, alongside experienced Solitaire du Figaro competitor Jean-Pierre Nicol and Jean-Paul Mouren,who has competed in the Solitaire du Figaro a staggering 25 times. Fifty percent of the race line-up is made up of rookies, with the majority being non-French sailors including Academy skippers Jack, Ed, Henry and Irish Figaro sailor David Kenefick [full entry list below]. "After three months of training with the Academy it's time to stop talking and start performing," explained Ed who is eager to get out onto the racecourse.
Both Jack and Ed are experienced fully crewed offshore sailors but they are now rookies in the highly competitive, one-design Figaro fleet where skippers can finish just seconds or minutes apart – a demanding test of skill as they cut their teeth in this new arena. It won't be easy as they make their foray into this new world of top-level solo sailing, and there could be times when they question their sanity! But right now, they are rearing to go: "Three months is not a lot of time, but hopefully it's enough to have made me competitive within the class," elaborated Ed.
"My main objective for the ICOM Cup Méditerranée is to sail cleanly without making major mistakes," said Jack. "I am here primarily to learn and gain experience competing on the Figaro circuit against the best."
After training at the elite Pôle Finistere training school Academy graduate Henry reported: "Going into this race I have a new found belief in my pace and a confidence that has grown since training at Pôle Finistere. I will be looking to stick close to the leaders and let my pace do the work over long periods of time, while waiting for others to make errors!" With fellow graduate sailor Nick offering some advice to the rookies: "Jack and Ed should try to stay cool and not get too caught up in the excitement at the start. As long as they focus on the basics like being on time for the start and sailing the boats efficiently, they'll definitely find their rhythm."
Setting off from La Grande Motte today the fleet is expected to cross the leg one finish line in Marseille on Friday 8th of March, followed by a day of coastal racing on Saturday 9th. The skippers will then leave Marseille on Sunday 10th and complete the final and longest 48 hour leg back to La Grande Motte, crossing the final finish line on Tuesday the 12th in time for the evening prize giving.
Follow Jack, Ed and Henry's progress for the duration of the race via the ICOM Cup Méditerranée tracker, as well as on the Artemis Offshore Academy website, Facebook and Twitter.
2013 ICOM Cup Méditerranée 12 skipper line-up:
- Matthew Girolet/FRA/Lafont Press
- David Kenefick/IRE/David Kenefick Sailing/Rookie
- Yves Ravot/FRA/France Referrals/Rookie
- Xavier Macaire/FRA/Skipper Hérault
- Ed Hill/GBR/Artemis 37/Rookie
- Jack Bouttell/GBR/Artemis 77/Rookie
- Henry Bomby/GBR/Artemis 23
- Gwenäel Gbick/FRA/Made in Mediterranean/Rookie
- Pierto D'Ali/ITA/TX Active I.Nova
- Jean-Pierre Nicol/FRA/Bernard Controls
- Alexia Barrier/FRA/Salon Nautique de Lyon – Water Recreation/Rookie
- Jean-Paul Mouren/FRA/Charter boat