SAILING: Sailor Hugh plans to take on the world solo

Hugh Brayshaw has his sighs on the Vendee Globe
Hugh Brayshaw has his sighs on the Vendee Globe

Former Lawrence Sheriff student aiming for Vendee Globe

A former pupil of Lawrence Sheriff Grammar School, Hugh Brayshaw is now making waves in the world of professional offshore racing.

At just 22 years old Brayshaw has set his sights on a 24,000nm solo non stop around the world sailing race called the Vendée Globe, hoping to follow in the footsteps of Britain’s most famous solo sailor, Dame Ellen MacArthur.

In order to achieve his ultimate goal, Brayshaw applied for the Artemis Offshore Academy - the UKs only training centre for budding British solo sailors.

Selected from a group of talented candidates, Brayshaw was invited to join the ranks of the Academy in September. He joins an elite squad of just eight British sailors currently competing in the Figaro, a 33ft boat specifically designed for solo racing.

“I am really excited to be working with the Academy,” Brayshaw reported. “I feel privileged to have the opportunity. Now in training, I’m working to enhance the necessary skills to become a talented offshore sailor.”

Introduced to sailing by his Dad Russel at Draycote Sailing club when he was just 8, Brayshaw is now working towards solo racing’s top annual race – the Solitaire du Figaro starting in June. Spanning a grueling 2000 miles between five European host venues, the Solitaire is known as the world championships of solo offshore sailing.

The race demands skill and determination, pushing the world’s best sailors to their physical and mental limits. Now in its 47th edition, the Solitaire is renowned as a training ground for the Vendée Globe, Brayshaw’s ultimate racing goal.

“I’ve followed offshore racing for many years, wanting to advance my sailing to a discipline more extreme and adventurous. Through being selected for the Academy I have proved I possess the raw ingredients to make it as a solo sailor and am now trying to earn my place on the Solitaire start line in 2016,” he explained.

Formerly competing at national level in Olympic dinghy classes, the first challenge for Brayshaw has been get to grips with his new 33ft keelboat. Specifically designed for solo offshore racing, the Figaro Bénéteau II is quick, nimble and tough, holding its own through some of Europe’s roughest waters.

“Learning how to sail solo is to learn to do the job of a full six man crew alone. Maneuvers are challenging and finding time to eat and sleep even more so, but I feel that solo racing suits my personality, giving me a confidence and drive to reaching my hefty goal of competing in and perhaps winning the Vendée Globe.

“Sailing against the best yachtsmen nonstop around the world for me is the ultimate sporting goal,” he concluded.

In the coming weeks Brayshaw will relocate to France for training in Lorient, working towards his first solo offshore race in March. Brayshaw will compete in as many as four warm up races in the New Year, as he looks to earn his place on the Solitaire du Figaro start line in June 2016.