Please select your home edition
Edition
Rooster Sailing - Aquafleece Leaderboard

Artemis Offshore Academy sailors prepare for first big challenge of 2016

by Artemis Offshore Academy on 17 Feb 2016 17 February 2016
Hugh Brayshaw during Artemis Offshore Academy 2016 winter training © Artemis Offshore Academy

Three British rookie solo ocean racing sailors are preparing for their biggest test yet, a 350-nautical mile, non-stop, single-handed race that takes place along the French Brittany coast.

The Solo Concarneau Trophée Guy Cotten is the first of three build-up races to the 2016 Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro race in June, the unofficial world championship of solo ocean racing.

Sailed in identical 33ft Beneteau Figaro monohulls, the race – featuring a fleet of up 25 British and French skippers – starts from the picturesque fishing town of Concarneau on March 17.

It promises some full-on racing, as the sailors take on a two-day – or even three-day – course along the rocky Brittany coast, complete with challenging tidal gates, including the infamous Raz de Sein.

For aspiring British single-handers, Hugh Brayshaw, Mary Rook and Will Harris, the Solo Concarneau is going to be the first big challenge as they enter the racing section of the Academy programme.

Harris, 22 from Surrey, is realistic about what he can achieve in this, his first major solo offshore race. So far he and his two fellow British rookies have only ever practiced racing for up 10 hours alone, so a minimum of 36 hours at sea is going to be a big step.

"Considering I am a rookie, I think getting round the course without any major mistakes will be my priority," said Harris. "I want to make sure I am on top of my navigation and that I am looking after the boat. I hope that will put me up there in the rookie rankings. I won't be trying to win so much as trying to make less losses than everyone else."

Brayshaw, also 22 and from Warwickshire, is feeling reasonably confident after some good practice races but he knows that after 36 hours at sea he will be in new territory. "Last year it was a very windy race and there were a lot of interesting calls on whether to use a spinnaker or not," he said. "These are big decisions and after two days on your own on the water, decision-making can become a little less than perfect. This first solo race will be a learning experience for me."

Mary Rook, at 29 is the eldest of the three rookie sailors, and she will celebrate her birthday at sea during the race. "I think I'll have to take at least a couple of bottles of gin to make it a little less painful," joked Rook who grew up on a dairy farm in Somerset. Like Harris she is not aiming too high in what will be a tough test of mind and body.

"I would just like to finish it and feel like I had been involved in the race and actually take some tactical decisions rather than just going round the course. Some of the other rookies we'll be racing against in the Figaro are taking part in the Solo Concarneau, so it's a perfect way to check in against them, and see where we are," she said.

The rookies will be joined on the start line by Academy alumni sailor Alan Roberts, who clinched the highest ever finish for a British sailor in the modern Figaro when coming 9th last year. Nick Cherry returns to start his 5th Figaro season, racing Redshift in his first competitive outing since his 5th place in the Generali Solo race at the end of 2015.

For 2016, the Solo Concarneau organisers have also invited double-handed entries, to accommodate sailors taking part in the two-handed Transat AG2R La Mondiale, which starts two weeks later from Concarneau on April 3rd.

Taking advantage of this opportunity to race together are Sam Matson and last year's Figaro Rookie Champion Robin Elsey. Andrew 'Hammy' Baker will also race two-handed in the Concarneau race with French sailor Nico Jossier who's been coaching the Academy sailors this winter, and who's boat Andrew has chartered for the 2016 season.

www.artemisoffshoreacademy.com

Related Articles

Natasha Lambert sails from Scotland to Ireland
Youngest disabled woman to complete the voyage Adventurer Natasha Lambert BEM has successfully become the youngest disabled woman to skipper a yacht from Scotland to Ireland. Her grand adventure started from, South East Scotland on Monday at 1030. Posted on 19 Jul
Miss Isle on BBC 1 documentary tonight
Featuring Natasha Lambert's breath control systems BBC1 have a documentary on tonight to highlight how technology can be used in sport, and one of the three items features Natasha and how she sails using her breath in her Mini 6.5 yacht. Posted on 23 Jun
La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro Stage 4 finish
Race winners decided in Dieppe This morning at 08:11:56 it was Macif 2015 skipper Charlie Dalin that crosses the finish line of the 4th and final stage (Concarneau-Dieppe) of the 2017 La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro. Posted on 23 Jun
La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro Stage 4 update
The Battle of England Rounding the north-westerly turning mark of the Wolf Rock Lighthouse the 43 boat fleet competing in La Solitaire URGO le Figaro have this morning finally picked up the pace getting some miles under their belts running down the South coast of Britain. Posted on 22 Jun
La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro Stage 4 update
Snakes and Ladders Leading the 43 boat fleet of La Solitaire URGO le Figaro competitors across the English Channel this morning it's Charlie Dalin (Skipper Macif 2015) at the head with a leading pack of 15 boats spread laterally. Posted on 21 Jun
La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro Stage 4 update
Loison makes a break for the lead First at the western Chaussee De Sein mark extending his lead Alexi Loison (Custopol) approaches the ‘Basse Royal' cardinal buoy. Having been gifted an early lead, Loison extends away from play mate Charlie Dalin (Skipper Macif 2015) by over 3nm. Posted on 20 Jun
La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro Stage 4 update
Slow progress Yesterday afternoon saw a very slow start and was followed by an even slower evening, the conditions allowing the skippers to complete just 60nm of the course with a further 365 to go at the 05:00 hours check in this morning. Posted on 20 Jun
La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro Stage 4 start
Final Grande Départ After a long wait for the wind to settle in the bay of the Forest in Concarneau, France, the 43 competitors of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro crossed the start of the final stage of this the 48th edition. Posted on 19 Jun
La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro Stage 4 preview
The deciding leg Just 505 miles remain of this 48th edition of La Solitaire URGO Le Figaro race, the run to Dieppe will seal the fate for the sailors. Well rested following three complete nights spent in Concarneau, the competitors will on Monday depart once more. Posted on 19 Jun
Continued support for Offshore Academy
From Marlow Ropes and Elliot Brown Watches Further bolstering The Offshore Academy's family of partners and sponsors, today The Academy is proud to announce the extension of support from Marlow Ropes - Official Rope Supplier and Elliot Brown Watches – Official Timekeepers to The Offshore Academy. Posted on 17 Jun