Artemis Mini sailor Nikki Curwen gets set to qualify on home turf

She’s completed her 1000 mile solo qualifying passage, now Artemis Offshore Academy Mini sailor Nikki Curwen gets set to complete the final race miles (from total of 1000nm) required to  qualify for the Mini Transat this weekend in her first Class Mini race on home turf, the Fuel Cell Systems UK Solent 6.50. Sailing double-handed with co-skipper and preparateur Lizzy Foreman, the all girl Artemis duo will set off on Sunday 5th of May at 1300hrs, sailing 290 miles from Lymington to Plymouth, via the Wolfe Rock. Artemis 438 will be amongst 10 Minis expected on the start line on Sunday, an increase of three Minis on the 2012 UK Solent 6.50 entry list.

Artemis Offshore Academy Mini sailor Nikki Curwen is just 290nm away from qualifying for the Mini Transat © Artemis Offshore Academy

“There is a great mix of competitors entered in the UK race this year,” Nikki reported, “from complete beginners, some of which this will be their first race, through to a handful of seasoned Mini sailors and Mini Transat competitors. There are four Brits entered in the 2013 Mini Transat; Pip Hare, Jake Jefferis, Luke Dampier and myself, all of whom are racing this weekend.”

Having secured two top ten finishing positions in her past two Mediterranean Mini races, Nikki looks forward the race in home waters and lining up against the UK Mini sailing community for the first time this season: “It will be interesting to see how I measure up against the group, especially against Pip, who is an experienced female Mini sailor and has already competed in the Mini Transat. I’m also looking forward to sailing with Lizzy, and of course, crossing the line and knowing that I’ve qualified for the Mini Transat.”

For the first time Nikki and Lizzy pair up and race on home turf © Artemis Offshore Academy

With light airs of 6 knots forecast for the start, building to 8 knots and then dropping to just 3 knots on the approach to the finish line, the 290 mile Fuel Cell Systems UK Solent 6.50 looks set to be a slow race, taking around three days as Lizzy explained: “It will be a tactical race with tidal gates to make and in the light winds mistakes will lead to big losses on the race course. The wind is forecast to predominantly blow from the south-south-east, which means we can get the big sails up to hold a more downwind course - better than having to sail upwind!” 

The Artemis Mini 6.50 in action on the Solent ©

For Artemis Offshore Academy part-time sailor and Mini campaign assistant Lizzy, the Fuel Cell UK Systems Solent 6.50 will be her first competitive race in the boat with Nikki: “I am really looking forward to getting out on the water, every time I sail the Mini, I love it a little bit more. It’s true Mini madness!, I’m keen to see just how much progress Nikki has made after her Mediterranean racing, and hope to learn a trick or two from her.”

Preparateur Lizzy has been looking forward to racing the Mini since the season began © Artemis Offshore Academy

Being the first UK race of her season, her final Mini Transat qualifying race and the first opportunity for Nikki to pit herself against her fellow Transat competitors, the Fuel Cell Systems comes as an important milestone in the 2013 Artemis Mini 6.50 campaign.

“I've had a good run of results this season so far, and I hope to continue that in this one. On top of the buzz of finishing the race, knowing that I’ve qualified for the Mini Transat as I cross the finish line will be a great feeling.” Nikki concluded.

You can follow Nikki and Lizzy’s race via the tracker, the Artemis Offshore Academy website, Facebook and Twitter.