• The ICOM Cup, the first race of the season, starts in just one week’s time
• Jack Bouttell (Artemis 77) and Ed Hill (Artemis 37) are fired up for their first ever solo offshore race
• Mark Andrews to focus on double-handed Figaro programme as graduate sailor
• Nick Cherry takes the reins of Artemis 23 for the 2013 season after the ICOM Cup
• Henry Bomby to compete in the ICOM Cup on Artemis 23
The recently announced 2013 full-time Academy Figaro programme kicks off in just a weeks time on the 6th March with the ICOM Cup Meditéranée. The three three-stage race starts from their winter training centre, the Centre d’Entrainement Méditerranée (CEM), in La Grande Motte, France, and heads to Marseille, followed by a day of inshore racing and then a longer race back to La Grande Motte.
Full-time Academy Figaro sailor Ed Hill at the helm of Artemis 37 © Thierry Seray
For Ed Hill and Jack Bouttell it will be the first solo offshore race of their careers: “Solo racing is something that I have been working towards for a long time. Now that I have the opportunity with the Academy to do it, I’m really looking forward to the challenge,” explained Jack. “It means a lot to be competing in the ICOM Cup - it means that I am moving towards my goal of being competitive in the Solitaire du Figaro,” said Development Squad sailor Ed.
Mark Andrews © Thierry Seray
Mark Andrews has taken the decision to focus purely on double-handed racing with the Academy: “I have made the difficult decision not to pursue this season’s single-handed offshore programme and will instead focus on double-handed and fully crewed offshore racing that can run alongside my Finn programme. I’ve put in a lot of work in the last few months, however, after the first solo 24 hour training race I suspected that solo racing may not be for me and I wanted to make my decision early so that another sailor could campaign Artemis 23 for the season.” Mark, who finished 7th at the 2012 Finn World Championships, will now have more time to campaign his Olympic Class dinghy. Graduate sailor Henry Bomby will take a break from training on his own boat in Port La Foret, Brittany, to race ‘23’ in the ICOM Cup, giving him some important early season race practice before the reins are handed to fellow graduate Nick Cherry. Nick will race the boat in the next two solo races of the season, aiming to secure enough funding to continue on to race in La Solitaire du Figaro in June.
Academy gradauate Henry Bomby will take the helm of Figaro 23 for the ICOM Cup Méditerranée © Alexis Courcoux
In preparation for the ICOM Cup the Academy soloists have been working hard with coach Nico Berenger, spending many long, hard and, not to mention, cold weekends working on their boats, learning how to use and repair onboard electronics, familiarising themselves with the engine and carrying out general maintenance to be race ready. “I’ve made lots of little modifications to my boat to make life easier like re-wiring it to keep things simple, hanging new stacking nets and getting 77 in shape for measurement, as well as adjusting the tiller height so I can steer with my bottom while gybing!” said Jack.
Academy soloist Jack Bouttell in action aboard his Figaro Bénéteau II © Thierry Seray
One of the hardest elements of this discipline is having to make all the decisions yourself without the input of other crew members. Both Jack and Ed have come from fully crewed racing and it is a big adjustment to make as Ed explains: “Doing everything yourself and multitasking is the hardest part of solo sailing!!”
Ed Hill looks forward to the first race of the Academy solo Figaro race programme © Thierry Seray
The Solitaire du Figaro, the pinnacle race of the season, starts at the end of Bordeaux’s famous Fete-le-Fleuve [River Festival] and includes stopovers in Porto (Portugal) for the first time, before continuing to Gijon (Spain), Roscoff, (France) and then finishing after 1938nm of racing in the traditional fishing port of Dieppe, (France) on the 26th June.