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Turnkey sailing academy for Britain’s brightest solo sailors seeks new backing

Artemis waves

A unique opportunity to associate with one of British sport’s most innovative training programmes becomes available today with the announcement by the UK-based fund manager Artemis that it is ending its 10-year sponsorship of British sailing.

During its decade-long association with the sport, Artemis has funded successful entries in some of the classic short-handed and solo races by British sailors, it has been the title sponsor of its own race around the Isle of Wight and donated thousands of pounds to charities associated with sailing.

But perhaps its main contribution has been as title sponsor of the Cowes-based Artemis Offshore Academy run by OC Sport. Set up in 2009, this unique “school of solo racing” has selected and trained young British sailors who aspire to compete in the unofficial world championship of offshore solo sailing – the Solitaire du Figaro – and ultimately round-the-world races like the Vendee Globe.

Dick Turpin, Partner, Artemis Investment Management LLP, said his company had benefitted hugely from its partnership with the Academy.  “Artemis has had a long, happy and most enjoyable association, with both offshore sailing and the Offshore Academy,” he said. 

“Being the founding sponsor of the Artemis Offshore Academy, we have enjoyed many and varied benefits - fabulous and unique client hospitality opportunities, great internal team building days and strong brand awareness in our target audiences.” 

Turpin added: “We are incredibly proud to have helped some great British offshore sailing talent receive the training and the technical skills, needed to compete at the highest level in offshore sailing. As a long-term sponsor, we have benefitted greatly from learning about the demands of the sport and witnessing the dedicated professionalism shown by the sailors.  We wish the present squad and all the graduates every success with their sailing careers. We will be watching with interest and excitement and our sincere thanks go to all those members of the sailing community who have helped us on this journey, in particular OC Sport.”

Over the past seven years the Academy, has supported 38 entries in the Solitaire du Figaro and 18 sailors have competed in the famous four-stage solo grand-prix. The trend in results has been upward with Alan Roberts from Southampton the best British overall finisher to date when he became the first Brit to make the top-10 last year. 

In addition the Academy has trained the winner of the coveted Rookie division in the Figaro in three of the last four years and Academy graduates have competed in transatlantic races and sailed a part of crews in the Volvo Ocean Race.
Turpin said he hoped Academy graduates could go on to even greater things in the solo field, including winning the Vendée Globe, something no Briton has yet achieved. “After 10 happy years, we hope to have left a notable contribution to British sailing and our talented offshore sailors in a better position to compete in, and win, the Vendee Globe,” he said.

Charles Darbyshire, the director of the Academy since inception, says the programme, which is funded until the end of this year, offers an unmatched opportunity for a new sponsor to build on the achievements under Artemis.

“The Academy has not just created a new generation of successful British solo sailors, it has also established training and technical skills to support all aspects of sailing that Britons have always excelled at,” said Darbyshire. 

“This country pioneered solo sailing with the likes of Sir Francis Chichester, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and more recently Dame Ellen MacArthur and Mike Golding OBE. The Academy draws on that rich tradition and has much more work to do as it continues to assist young sailors looking to match the feats of those legends.”

Darbyshire also highlighted the opportunity the Academy presents as an innovative and attractive platform for corporate events, with over 5,000 guests enjoying the chance to meet the sailors or even go sailing from the base in Cowes over the last seven years. 

“What we do is unusual and people are fascinated by the journey our sailors take each season,” he said. “A new sponsor would have access to a ready-made programme in this area with the expertise to handle hundreds of guests every year.”

Mary Rook, one of the Academy’s most recent recruits who competed in her first Figaro this season, said the programme offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that has transformed her sailing skills. “It is tough, gritty and well-run,” she said. 

“We benefit from coaching in all areas of this remarkable discipline – how to sail faster, to pace ourselves, cope with sleep deprivation and understand the weather - the Academy gives you the confidence to push yourself in a demanding and often risky environment. We can also lean on the team’s PR, communication, and commercial skills, as we evolve our own individual programmes,” she added.

To mark the conclusion of its involvement in British sailing Artemis will stage a 10th anniversary celebration at Cowes Week where some of the Academy yachts will be racing. The 10th Artemis Challenge race around the Isle of Wight on Thursday August 11th will feature two super-powerful MOD70 trimarans going head–to-head in aid of their chosen charity.

Later that day there will be a special air display by the Royal Airforce Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, to recognise Artemis’ support of British sailing.

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