Leg one of the ICOM Cup concludes for Artemis Offshore Academy skippers

Today, Friday 8th March, Artemis Offshore Academy skippers Jack Bouttell (Artemis 77) and Ed Hill (Artemis 37) raced across their first ever single-handed finish line in the ICOM Cup Méditérranée. Ed finished in 4th (before jury) and Jack in 7th (before jury) position after the 160nm offshore course. Academy graduate Henry Bomby (Artemis 23) was forced to abandon the race in the early hours of the morning after damaging his head-foil, which is the groove in the forestay that enables the headsail to be hoisted or dropped.

Setting off from La Grande Motte yesterday in light airs of around 6-8kts, the fleet rounded the first mark, MS1, at around 21:30 GMT with Henry in 3rd, and rookies Ed and Jack in mid-fleet positions. As the race unfolded, Jack stuck with the main leading pack and managed to climb up the pack to 2nd place on the approach to the second mark, Cassidaigne. However, as the fleet converged at the mark, it was Ed who raced in to lead the fleet after his more southerly course paid off. Ed has since stayed in contention with the top three boats and eventually crossed the finish line in 4th: "We had talked about the benefits of staying south on that section of the course beforehand," explained Ed, "So that is what I decided to do and luckily for me it paid off! I'm happy with the position I crossed the line in, but on the beat to the second mark I opted for the same tactics and it didn't pay off so well and I lost a few positions, but it felt good to lead the fleet around that second mark."

"I was doing pretty well on the way to the second mark", continued Jack. "I think I even made it into second at one point and kept my pace for a while afterwards. However, on the beat down to the third mark I went with a group through some rocks and got stuck in a patch of no wind. The other four boats managed to get out in time, but I was stuck for about 45 minutes and had to sail in the opposite direction for a bit while Ed and the rest of the fleet sailed around me. It was a good start to the race, I made a few silly errors, but learned a lot and I didn't eat all of my food!"

During the early stages of the race, Academy graduate Henry was hot on the tail of leaders Pietro D’Ali and Jean-Pierre Nicol and looked set to have a successful race. This was until just two to three miles past the first mark, his boat was hit by a big wave while up making a sail change on the bow, causing Henry to fall into the jib and break the tuff luff. No longer able to hoist his head sail, Henry made a difficult desicion to abandon the race so he could repair the boat and continue with the remainder of the race tomorrow.

Henry was not the only skipper to experience problems during this first leg, with rookie Dave Kenefick forced to retire due to damage to his mainsail and problems with onboard electrics left Solitaire du Figaro veteran Jean-Paul Mouren lagging behind the fleet.  However, the solo skippers still have a chance to get back in the game as the racing continues tomorrow (9th March) at 12:00 GMT, with three one hour inshore races. The current forecast for tomorrow looks to be sunny, with light winds from the northwest maxing 10-15kts - perfect champagne sailing conditions.

The third and final leg of the ICOM Cup Méditérranée kicks off from Marseille on the 10th March and will followed by a final coastal race on Tuesday 12th March in La Grande Motte. The overall regatta standings will be calculated on cumulative time over leg one, the inshore racing and leg two.  

The race standings after leg one are:
Position/Skipper/Figaro No./Nationality/Time

1. Matthieu Girolet/86/FRA/1d, 2h, 49' 17"
2. Xavier Herault/8/FRA/1d, 3h, 07' 57"
3. Ed Hill/37/GBR/1d, 3h, 08h, 18"
4. Yves Ravot/31/FRA/1d, 3h, 10' 51"
5. Jack Bouttell/77/GBR/1d, 3h, 22' 54"
6. Gwenael Gbick/29/FRA/1d, 4h, 32' 25"
7. Alexia Barrier/49/FRA/1d, 4h, 38' 36"
8. Jean-Pierre Nicol/68/FRA/1d, 4h, 56' 36"
9. Pietro D'Ali/42/ITA/1d, 5h, 16' 52"
RTR Jean-Paul Mouren/13/FRA/2d, 6h, 52' 00"
RTR David Kenefick/45/IRL/2d, 6h, 52' 00"
RTR Henry Bomby/23/GBR/2d, 6h, 52' 00"