The UK has shown that when they want to win something, provided they can find the investment to fund the development, they can create great sports professionals. Sports like Cricket and Olympic events like cycling have been targeted with great results. But in an environment where governments are cutting funds for services like libraries, spending public money on future sporting glory is a touchy subject.
A sport like sailing, which is still to fully shrug off accusations of elitism can deliver more than just results. Investment in marine infrastructure by governments in Oman, New Zealand and Spain have shown that there is a bigger play than standing on the top of a podium. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that the UK government would dedicate resources to developing the next British Vendee Globe winner.
Luckily, there are private companies who understand how such investments deliver returns and applications for the Artemis Offshore Academy 2011/2012 Development Squad are now open.
The Artemis Offshore Academy was created in June 2010 to provide a UK training programme of excellence for British short-handed sailors, providing a structure to bring talented sailors up through the ranks. Designed to help them win major offshore solo and short-handed races in the future, the ultimate goal is to put a British sailor in a strong position to win the Vendée Globe in 2016 or 2020.
The Artemis sponsorship helps to fund the Development Squad training at the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA) as well as in the south of France at the prestigious Centre d’Entraînement Méditerranée. On top of the training, a Scholarship is given to the most promising member of the Development Squad. It is an annual, fully funded Scholarship to compete on the highly competitive Figaro circuit, including the famous Solitaire du Figaro race. Support is also given, via the Academy, for one UK sailor to compete in the Mini Transat.
Sam Goodchild, who was awarded the first scholarship says:
“Joining the Artemis Offshore Academy Development Squad and winning the Scholarship has enabled me to get much closer to my dream of racing in the Vendée Globe. The training programme that the Academy runs is totally unique for British sailors and has given me a major boost into the short-handed offshore sailing world.”
Artemis Offshore Academy Performance Director John Thorn explains:
“We are very excited about the next Academy year and the next Selection Trials as we open the door of the Academy to our second intake of talented British sailors. We know so much more now than last year about the logistics and training programme the sailors need. And we have learnt a great deal about the way the French Figaro and Mini sailors train which will be hugely beneficial for the second intake of Squad sailors and beyond. Last year the Selection Trials brought us many exceptional candidates and I hope that this year will be even better.”
“All candidates should not be under the illusion it will be an easy ride. Far from it, the training and the race programme is tough and will require a high level of existing sailing skill on which to build and also a high degree of commitment.”
But with 18 months to go until the next Vendee Globe, many UK solo sailors with a track record are struggling to find the required sponsorship for the race. Importantly he Artemis Offshore Academy doesn’t just teach the next generation about how to sail well, its curriculum also covers how to be commercial about it. Understanding the fundamentals of how and why companies sponsor offshore sailing and packaging that is something that is not a natural talent for many athletes.
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