Brian Thompson secures major Open 60 sponsorship deal with Artemis. Sue Pelling reports 7/7/06

Brian Thompson has secured a major sponsorship deal with Artemis, one of the UK’s leading investment companies.

Through the support of Artemis Thompson, who is one of the country’s most experienced and successful offshore racers, has been given the opportunity to exploit his amazing talent providing him with a professional platform on which to base his Vendee Globe Open 60 campaign.

With a total of 25 world records under his belt and more multihull and swing keel miles than possibly any other British sailor, Thompson is determined to make his campaign aboard Open 60 Artemis Ocean Racing of Leith a success. Commenting at a special press event today at St Katherine Dock in the City of London Thompson said: “I am extremely excited to have the chance to sail Artemis Ocean Racing at the highest level. We can achieve great things with the boat and I am very grateful to Artemis for this opportunity.”

The investment company will be supporting Thompson in a series of races and record attempts kicking off with the RORC Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland in August. Thompson also plans to attempt a number of speed records. Depending on timing and conditions these could include Round Isle of Wight, Cowes – Fastnet Rock – Plymouth and the Round Britain and Ireland. He will also compete in a new three-day sailing event, sponsored by Artemis, to be held in Edinburgh. The 2006 programme will culminate in the Route du Rhum ocean race in October, in which Thompson will compete single-handed, sailing from St Malo to Guadeloupe.

Chatting to about the reasons why Artemis decided to break into the yachting circuit chief executive Mark Tyndall said: “We looked at all sports and decided that sailing in this league has a lot to offer and Brian is certainly the man who is going to make it all happen.

“We decided that it was a great opportunity to get own name really known. It’s much more fun for clients, much more fun for staff and much more fun for everyone if we can get involved in a big success like I think this is going to be. Brian represents qualities of experience, skill, flair and determination, which we believe reflect Artemis’ qualities in the financial markets.”

Previously sailed as Pindar Alphagraphics this boat is recognised as one of the fastest on the Open 60 circuit. Designed by Owen Clarke and Rob Humphreys, it was originally built as Hexagon for Graham Dalton’s 2002 Around Alone campaign. Since Pindar bought the boat in 2003 it has been finely tuned under the direction of Mike Sanderson and Emma Richards for entry into a number of high profile events including the Transat Jacques Vabre 2003, the Transat 2004 and the Rolex Fastnet last year.

Now in its new, dark blue Artemis livery, Thompson’s Open 60 is in the final stages of preparation for the fully-crewed Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race which starts on Monday 7 August.

Chatting to Mark Thomas who looks after rig it’s clear that there’s still a fair amount of work to do before the boat heads south to Cowes. “We’ve had her totally overhauled in Newport but we still need to carry out some modifications to the rig. We have some new NZ North sails on the way, code-type sails, similar sails to some of the VOR boats, so we have those to sort out and then basically we need to try to make her a little bit easier for Brian to sail singlehandedly particularly with the sail changes.

“At the moment the boat has two hank-on working jibs which hank onto the Solent stay which is quite a difficult change to do singlehandedly, so we’re going to play around with a few different ideas.”

The boat, which is currently keel-less, will be motored downriver back to Tilbury Docks tomorrow, craned out and worked on there before being transported to the Solent for the start of an intense tune-up session prior to the first big race.