Thursday, 9 May 2013

Solent 6.50 : Artemis Offshore Academy Girls Finish Solent 6.50

Artemis 438 ©

by Artemis Offshore Academy media

After racing around the demanding coastal course from Lymington to Plymouth via Wolfe Rock and battling every weather condition Mother Nature could throw at them, Artemis Offshore Academy Mini sailors Nikki Curwen and Lizzy Foreman crossed the 290 mile Fuel Cell Systems UK Solent 6.50 finish line on Wednesday 8th May at 09:37 BST. The Artemis duo finished 2nd in the double-handed Series class and 4th overall. More importantly, the end of the race marked Nikki’s qualification for the 4020nm Mini Transat in October, having now accumulated the full 1000 race miles and completed her solo qualifying passage. She joins the all important waiting list before being allocated a place on the start line.

“It was an eventful race to say the least,” reported the newly qualified Nikki. “We had a good start, managed to drift off to France a little bit south of the Isle of Wight and made use of every sail we could carry on the boat to finish mid-fleet. Our overall result is a little disappointing, but I couldn’t be happier having achieved our main objective – getting qualified!”

Nikki Curwen and Lizzy Foreman ©

The Artemis Mini girls set off from Lymington, UK on Sunday 5th May and headed east around the Isle of Wight, soon becoming engaged in an epic crossing tack battle with the eventual race winner, Pip Hare (solo Series Class) sailing ‘The Potting Shed'.

“Between Sandown and St. Catherines point, I think I counted over 100 tacks, with us and The Potting Shed dancing the whole way down the south-east coast of the island, “Nikki continued. “It was tiring, but a real stand out race moment for me, having such close racing with Pip.”

Mini by name and mini by nature, Nikki and Lizzy drove the 21’ Artemis 438 through every weather condition imaginable over the 290 mile course, from having to drop anchor due to no wind off of the Isle of Wight, to plowing upwind in 27 knots in rain and hail off of Anvil Point. For Lizzy the UK Solent 6.50, the first double-handed race of her Mini career, was a real eye opener.

Lizzy Foreman ©

“That was the best offshore race I’ve ever done,” Lizzy proudly stated at the finish. “There were times that I hated it, hanging on to the boat in the hail stones on a never ending reach was one of these times, but looking back I even loved that. The close contact one-design racing is exciting and it was great making some bold decisions and seeing them pay off on the course.”

Compared to the light winds of the Mediterranean where Nikki has been racing so far this season, the UK Solent 6.50 was heavy going, with the duo sailing their Mini with two reefs in the main and two in the jib for a large majority in of the race. Lizzy colorfully described the sensation of sailing a Mini upwind as like being in a real life game of buckaroo.

Having qualified for Mini Transat, Nikki must now wait and hope to work her way up the waiting list, to become one of the 84 Minis on the start line come the 13th October 2013. Nikki is the 2nd British Mini sailor, after Pip Hare, to have qualified for the race, with Brits Jake Jefferis and Luke Dampier also aiming to compete in this years Class Mini finale.

Nikki and Lizzy competing in the Solent 6.50 ©

Double Handed Series Class
Boat name/Skipper/Finishing time

1. Yellow Fin/Tom Webb/06:20
2. Artemis/Nikki Curwen/06:37
3. One Girls Challenge/10:21

UK Solent 6.50 results overall
Boat name/Skipper/Class/Finishing time

1. The Potting Shed/Pip Hare/Solo Series/03:23
2. Mad Dog/Jake Jefferis/Solo Proto/05:10
3. Yellow Fin/Tom Webb/Double-handed Series/06:20
4. Artemis/Nikki Curwen/Double-handed Series/09:37
5. One Girls Challenge/Double-handed Series/10:21
6. Blue One/Giles Grant/Double-handed Proto/to finish
7. Seanrgy/Katrina Ham/Solo Series/DNF
8. Dialoulic/Yannick Le Clech/Solo Series/DNF

Artemis Offshore Academy
Solent 6.50