It has been an exciting few months for me in the build-up to Christmas and 2017. The sponsorship search has kept me tamed to the office, but as always I’ve managed to slip out for a few sails before winter really sets in.
Most importantly though is that I have managed to take a huge step forward in my sailing campaign…. Following selection by Whitecap, my new objective for 2017 is to compete in the 5400 Mile Transatlantic race in November 2017 on a 60 foot yacht (Imoca 60) with only 2 people on-board.
Over the past year I have been tested both on and off the water by Whitecap, managers of the Vendee2020Vision Project. Myself along with 9 others each spent 3 days sailing an Imoca 60 solo under the watchful eye of Dee Caffari. Alongside this, a Dragons Den style sponsorship presentation tested our commercial skills, which are just as important as the sailing side. It was from these tests I was selected as one of two full time skippers of the Imoca 60 Artemis 2 (or A2).
The official announcement of the programme of the Vendee2020Vision project was made today at the London Boatshow. I was on stage with Sam Matson (the second selected skipper) and none other than sailing legend Ellen MacArthur, answering questions about the objectives for the coming years.I also shocked her a bit with a photo of myself getting her autograph years ago!
To sum up the project, Sam and I will be training for the next 9 months both commercially (searching for sponsors!) and sailing on A2. We are very lucky to have been provided this initial training budget from Artemis Investment Management who has supported me for the last few years. They have boosted us into a position where we can easily bring a title sponsor on-board for the Transat Jaques Vabres Race at the end of this year.
I definitely did not see myself here a few months ago and I can’t wait for the coming year. It will be an amazing achievement for myself if I reach the start line of this transatlantic race as it will be by far my longest ever offshore race.
I moved down to the Southampton last week to begin the project full-time. The boat and office of Whitecap are based down here, but it does feel very strange to be back in the city where I studied for three years during my degree. I have a great team to be working with too. Mikey Ferguson knows the boat inside out and will help me learn the systems on the boat and how to sail it. Sean and Jess make up the commercial team who will guide me in sponsorship department while Simon will manage the project overall.
You will see lots of updates, videos and blogs in the near future on how my training is progressing. For now, the boat is out of the water and undergoing its winter refit. This is a great chance to learn about the many complicated systems on-board, as the boat is effectively a jigsaw puzzle that we need to put back together (with guidance from Mikey!).
Happy New Year to everyone and I hope you are as excited for 2017 as I am!