First Week of Figaroing

I’ve been looking forward to getting out on the water since starting with the Academy, but learning the Figaro is not just all about the sailing and a day in the life of an Artemis Offshore Academy sailor goes a bit like this:

Get up: 07:25 Morning swim:7.30- 8.15 Training briefing 9.00 Boat work: 9.30 Dock off for training : 10.30 Sailing: 10:45 – 16:45 Dock back in: 17.00 Gym& eveningping pong: 18.30 Dinner and debrief: 20.00 Figaro film club: 21:00

On Monday 30th September, we finally headed out for our first full week of Figaro sailing, with two-time Solitaire du Figaro competitor and Artemis Offshore Academy graduate Nick Cherry taking to the RIB to teach us the tricks of the trade. Training has been intense and we’ve all been pretty tired at the end of the day, but it’s been great.

We had a prefect start to the week witha heatlhy 16 to 20 knots and gusts of up to 25 knots blowing over the Solent on Monday and Tuesday. Nick ran some pretty intensive boat handling sessions for the first two days, focusing tacking, gybing and the hoisting and dropping of kites, starting double handed, but we also had a go solo.Learningto sail a Figaro is not like a dinghy where you’re constantly in race mode, instead the emphasis is on giving yourself time to get everything done that a full crew would normally do, this is key when learning the process of a manoeuvre – the speed comes later.

As the week went on, the winds got lighter and we got to see a different side to the Figaro.Learning to sail the Figaro in 3 knots is just as important as blasting around in 30 knots, as you never know when the wind is going to shut off out on the course. We also took the opportunity to play around with some headsail peels, which in big breeze and or solo can be extremely hard work.

On Thursday we decided to combine a bit of night-time sailing with a lads trip out. Starting with a sail around the Solent, we ended up in GunwarfQuays for a cheeky beer and burger under Tiger Tiger before a good night-time close reach back. It is very important to get as many miles in the dark under our belts as possible, as sailing at night is very different.

The week concluded with a shortfour-hour race around the Solent with lots of different angle legsincorporating all the manoeuvreswe’d been practicing.

Sam and I were off to a great start, first over the line and keeping a great pace upwind! The breeze during the race topped out at about 34 knots and we ripped it down the Solent at a boat speed of 20 knots. On final leg, the boats went head to head, close tacking back in to Cowes with Artemis 21 coming up trumps to finish first by a nose. It was a great end to the first week of Figaro training.

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Alan Roberts is a professional sailor who has sailed a variety of dinghy classes, sports boats and keel boats where he has gained a reputation for being a hard worker with a very focussed, methodical mind-set.

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