When our sponsorship agreement with Pol Roger champagne and the Artemis academy was finalised earlier in the year and it came out that one of the conditions was that Sam and I go up to London at some point to have lunch with them I knew it wouldn’t be too much of an imposition. As it happened the lunch was a cosy affair down stairs in a nice restaurant is Soho where we got the chance to give a short talk about our sailing to a group of twenty ‘friends of Pol’ in between sipping on vintage Champagne and eating amazing food. The group was made up of an interesting mix of people most of whom were royal warrant holders like Pol Roger, all making high quality products in traditional ways as well as a few journalists and a couple of scruffy sailors. I think our tales were well received and there were some good questions before we could sit down and sample more or the product. Apart from the late afternoon hangover once I got off the train in Southampton it was really good to spend some time with some of the people who helped make all out adventure this year possible as well as sharpening the public speaking skills which are vital in the world of sponsorship hunting. A last little bonus that came from sitting next to a guy who makes tasty, gamey ready meals was securing some free merchandise for the ARC next month. We won’t go hungry looking at these www.davidoliverfoods.co.uk
After living it up for a day in London it was time to be brought back to earth on Tuesday as Henry and myself agreed to take Finn sailing giant and new AOA recruit Mark Andrews and one of the UK’s top 49er crews, Mark Asquith out for a full Figaro experience. In order to help Mark Asquith decide if short handed sailing could be his thing and to give other Mark a bit more time in the boats we did a day of short course boat handling practice followed by a two handed race from Cowes to Weymouth and back around the Isle of Wight. We couldn’t have planned the 120 mile round trip any better with a light tricky run out of the Solent turning into 25 knot blast towards Portland once passed the needles. Things were close all the way around until we got a bit separated approaching St Cats round the back of the Island. This was probably the best test of willing for these hotel bed softened dinghy boys as the lack of close racing, miserable rain and dawn related coldness brought the cycle of motivation to a definite low.
I certainly hope they haven’t been put off because it would be great for the strength of the UK Figaro effort to have sailors like these two around more. Unsurprisingly they took to the boats very easily and were quickly asking questions like ‘why don’t you do this like this?’ or ‘why isn’t their a light on here?’ Either way it’s a good sign that these type of people are now seriously looking to the Artemis Academy for their next step after the Olympic program.