The dress rehearsal is over for the Artemis double-handed duos

Having been working hard in training and on their boats between their University studies since November, this weekend Artemis Offshore Academy double-handed Figarists, Alex Gardner and Dyfrig Mon (Artemis 43) and Sam Matson and Robin Elsey (Artemis 21) will put down their books and pull on the Musto wet weather gear,  as they put this winters efforts to the test in their first Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) race of the season, the Cervantes Trophy. Setting off from Cowes on Saturday the 4th May at 10:20 BST, the course will run 120nm from the start line to Le Harve, France via a passing mark, which is yet to be confirmed.

 Robin Elsey, Sam Matson, Dyfrig Mon and Alex Gardner were all smiles ahead of Saturday's sunny race start © Artemis Offshore Academy

Conditions for the race look set to be glamourous all the way, with an expected downwind start in light breeze, sun and temperatures hitting around 17 degrees. Here in the UK, the Artemis Figaro Bénéteau II’s compete in the IRC 2 class and 43 and 21 will be among 19 boats racing in the class and 104 boats competing on Saturday: “For us the main competition is going to be the other double handed boats,” explained Alex, who takes on his first competitive Figaro race since being selected for the Academy in September. “There is just one other Figaro competing outside of the Artemis gang, ‘Rare’, a pink Figaro that finished just behind Yeoman, a J109 that myself and Robin raced around the Fastnet in 2011.”

Artemis 43 co-skippers Dyfrig and Alex © Artemis Offshore Academy

For Alex and Dyfrig, who come from a crewed and dingy sailing background, the Cervantes Trophy comes as an opportunity to see how they measure up against the competition. Since having been selected to train with the Academy, the determined duo have spent every available weekend training on the Solent, often in freezing temperatures, perfecting their maneuvers, speed testing and refining their set up: “We’ve put a lot into this season, in terms of both working on the boat and time spent training on the water,” said Dyfrig, who between sailing, is studying for a PhD in Nanotechnology at Swansea University. “It’s been a long winter training often in harsh north easterlies, with Artemis 43 being the only boat to brave the Solent on many weekends. We feel that we’ve earned this weekend’s forecast.”

Sam and Robin team up for the 2013 season © Artemis Offshore Academy

Robin and Sam, have already competed in a series of races together last season, finishing 18 out of 28 in the RORC Cowes – Dinard- St Malo race in July. The season so far has been exceptionally busy for the pair, as they try to balance their studies and exams with their Figaro training. For Sam, now on the brink of graduating from his three year BSc Hon degree in Navigation and Maritime Science at Plymouth University, the season has been a particularly challenging juggling act: “With the approach of the Cervantes trophy, coupled with the perfect timing of the university exam weeks, the build up to the race has been incredibly busy. However, Robin and I are confident that we have done all that we can do to prepare ourselves and our boat for the race ahead and look forward to just getting out there and pushing hard until the end.”

You can follow the Artemis Offshore Academy double-handers, Alex and Dyfrig and Sam and Robin, to the end in the Cervantes Trophy via our website, Facebook and Twitter.