The Artemis Offshore Academy is pleased to confirm all three of its British Rookies including Northern Ireland’s Andrew Baker have been selected to compete in the 2015 Solitaire du Figaro – Eric Bompard Cachemire. Now two races into the season, Andrew Baker, Rob Bunce and Robin Elsey have proved their potential ahead of the 2185-mile race – this weekend finishing an intense week of coastal and offshore racing as part of the Solo Maître Coq. All three of the Academy’s Figaro freshman have now taken their place on the coveted Rookie podium already this season, with Robin and Andrew finishing first and third Rookies overall in the Solo Basse Normandie and Rob finishing second overall in the recent Solo Maître Coq regatta. With only Robin having any short-handed experience prior to the Academy, the sailors have progressed well in training and proved themselves competitive on the Classe Figaro Bénéteau circuit against both their fellow first timers and the wider and more experienced fleet.
“The aim of the Academy has always been to see its Rookie competitors on the Rookie podium,” Artemis Offshore Academy Sailing Team Manager Charles Darbyshire explained. “Rob, Robin and Andrew have all proved in their first two races that they are capable of doing this and I’m sure if all goes well in the Solitaire, we could see any one of them matching the great performances put in by our past British Rookies Jack Bouttell and Sam Matson (1st and 2nd Rookies in 2013 and 2014). Thanks to the help and support from everyone working with the Academy and its sailors this season, Rob, Andrew and Robin have developed far enough to be worthy of a place, representing the Artemis Offshore Academy on the Solitaire du Figaro start line in just over a months time.”
The 46th edition of the Solitaire du Figaro will take competitors to five European host venues. Starting in Bordeaux, France on the 31st May, the race will visit Sanxenxo, Spain, La Cornouaille, France, Torbay, UK and Dieppe, France over the course of one month.
Being told his name will be on the Solitaire du Figaro entry list was the realisation of 15 years of dedication and commitment to sailing for Saintfield’s Andrew Baker: “For me the Solitaire du Figaro is the ultimate test of mind, body and tactical skill. I’ve put so much energy and passion into sailing over the years and to compete in the Solitaire really is the epitome of what I’ve been working towards. I will feel very proud to represent the Artemis Offshore Academy and Northern Ireland in the race.”
The decision to enter all three Academy Rookies in this year’s Solitaire came as the squad finished their second race of the 2015 season, the Solo Maître Coq. Racing out of the iconic homeport of the Vendée Globe and this year counting towards the Championships of France, the Solo Maître Coq attracts a high pedigree of Figaro competitors and Rookies alike. Forty sailors took part in this year’s regatta comprised of three 22-mile coastal races and a 320-mile offshore race around Île de Ré, Île d’Yea and Belle Île.
Setting off on the 320-mile race on Thursday 23rd April after 10 solid hours of racing was good practice for the Academy’s Rookies, the best dry run of the four-staged Solitaire du Figaro they are likely to get. There were mixed results for the Brits overall, split between the top and bottom half of the leaderboard – but seeing some good individual results over the week.
With two races down, there is now just one to go – the Solo Concarneau Trophee Guy Cotten starting Thursday 7th May. The Solitaire du Figaro – Eric Bompard Cachemire starts Sunday 31st May.
British Solo Maître Coq results after four races
- Yann Elies/Queguiner – Luecemie Espoir
- Jérémie Beyou/Maître Coq
- Morgan Lagraviere/Safran
- Nick Cherry/Redshift
- Jack Bouttell/GAC Concise
- Alan Roberts/Magma Structures
- Henry Bomby/Rockfish Red
- Sam Matson/Chatham Marine
- Rob Bunce/Artemis 37* – second Rookie overall
- Robin Elsey/Artemis 43* – first Rookie in the offshore race
- Andrew Baker/Artemis 23*