Malbon makes nervous start to Figaro solo race

The first few miles of the Figaro solo race proved a nervous test for the only British competitor, Jonny Malbon, representing the Artemis team.

As the 45 boats pulled away from Le Havre on the first leg west and south to Gijon, Malbon, who pulled out of his 2008-09 Vendee Globe round the world solo attempt, was 41st

"I slept well, despite waking up every now and then, I don't know why, guess it's the stress. I went to bed early and I rested enough, so I'm all right and much more relaxed than last year,” said Malbon before the start.

"I was so nervous in 2009. The hours before the start are always a bit hard and all you wish is to be on the water, start racing and concentrating."

Malbon is just the first of a string of competitors who will come out of the Artemis stable who will be given a chance to do the Figaro, regarded as an essential apprenticeship for longer singlehanded races but the major European test in its own right.

The Artemis investment group, based in Scotland, continues to support the concept of singlehanded sailing and is backing an academy, managed by the Offshore Challenges group, at the Weymouth and Portland Sailing Centre which will host the 2012 Olympic regatta.

It also sponsors a sailboat learning programme in Laser SB3s and will again back a round the Isle of Wight race for Open 60s in Cowes Week next week.