In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Pol Roger Portfolio, we arranged the third biennial Pol Roger Regatta. The Regatta is made possible by the Artemis Offshore Academy, who we have supported since 2010. The Offshore Academy is a UK training programme of excellence for British short-handed sailors, providing a structure to bring talented sailors up through the ranks. Each of the Regatta boats was skippered by an Academy sailor, two of whom had just returned from competing in the Solitaire du Figaro.
We arrived at the Royal Southampton Yacht Club, joined by Hubert de Billy from Pol Roger & Cie and Anthony and George Wills of Kilchoman, plus a selection of customers, press and friends of the company. The day started with a breakfast briefing, which covered safety and the itinerary for the day, before separating into teams of 5, including an Academy Skipper, and donning our Regatta tees! We headed down to the harbour from which point the skippers familiarised us with the Figaro boats; these are 33ft long racing boats, built to withstand the fiercest conditions. These boats are raced by all the competitors in the gruelling Solitaire du Figaro and are the chosen boat for the Artemis Offshore Academy.
From this point we headed out into the Solent, at which point the skippers handed over the reins to their crews, ensuring that all on board experienced steering, gybeing and winching. Following a swift lunch on board, the racing commenced! The start point was the Champagne Pol Roger buoy, from which point we sailed down to Artemis the Profit Hunter buoy, starboard side, before racing back to the Pol Roger buoy. After a couple of laps of this route, we embarked on the Pol Roger Regatta race proper, which was to start at the Pol Roger Buoy and then onwards, all the way into Cowes, finishing at the Prince Consort buoy. The three boats that were skippered by a Rookie sailor were given a 3 minute head start, which proved to be decisive, with boat no. 77, skippered by Will Harris, taking the lead from the outset and remaining ahead of the pack until the end.
Once the Figaros were moored in Cowes, we headed to the Island Sailing Club for a restorative glass of Pol Roger Brut Reserve. It was a fantastic and memorable day, improved by fine weather and good wind, and one which enlightened all involved to the tremendous work done by the Offshore Academy, nurturing exceptional British sailing talent.