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Tuesday 30 June 2015

Catching up with Alan Robert, BEng Yacht and Powercraft design graduate

Since graduating from the BEng Yacht and Powercraft design course in 2011 alumnus Alan Roberts has made waves in the sailing world with four UK National Championship Titles and two Endeavour Champion of Champions wins.

Not only this, but Alan has just completed a 2000 mile solo offshore sailing race, the 2015 Solitaire du Figaro. Alan took 9th position in the single-handed race- the highest British position in the last 40 years. Only one other sailor in the 46 years the race has existed has taken the top British spot, Claire Francis, who finished 5th in 1975 when the fleet consisted of just 14 boats. Alan has been competing in a fleet of 39 skippers including a total of eight Brits and past winners of the race. A fantastic result for British offshore sailing, specifically as this is just Alan’s second attempt at the race.

Artemis Offshore Academy. The eight British 2015 Solitaire du Figaro skippers and seven Figaros were in Torquay.

The Alumni team caught up with Alan as he was training to set sail before the month-long race. Backed by local Hampshire title sponsor Magma Structures and supported by the Artemis Offshore Academy, Alan has been based in France (Lorient) since November 2014 as he had been training among the French sailors and working hard towards his goal of the closest one design single handed offshore racing in the world.

Tell us about what you have got up to after leaving Solent?

After graduating I worked on a small project doing the detailed design for a small free-standing rotating carbon fibre rig for a pretty extreme boat. During the summer I sailed with great success, winning the XOD centenary year nationals at Cowes week and the RS 200 nationals in Weymouth.

I then went on to work for Ker Yacht design in Valencia, Spain doing CAD work and composites structural design. In 2012 I moved back to the UK and worked for Discovery yachts designing Blue water cruising boats (but mainly on the design of a new Discovery 57).

In 2013 I worked for myself, designing and building a small competitive racing dinghy (international 14 foot skiff) setting up a set of mold tools and building the first boat. Towards the end of 2013 I joined the Artemis Offshore Academy to start my single handed offshore sailing career where I was based in the UK till 2014 then moved down to France to train in Lorient.

Alan Roberts

A great start to your career Alan! So has any moment been a particular highlight?

I have been very content with every project I have been lucky enough to be involved with so far. A particular highlight would have to be the design and build of an international 14 as this is a class of boat that has always had a special place in my life. It was an honour to have to opportunity to run this project and a great opportunity to get hands on building as well as sitting behind the computer screen.

Have you got any favourite memories from your time at Solent?

I thoroughly enjoyed my course at Solent both in and out of the lecture room, one of the reasons I selected to study in Southampton was to be able to keep sailing – the south coast been the best place for the type of sailing I was after.
Particular highlights was graduating from my course, a great sense of achievement! Winning the student yachting nationals in my first year as tactician then been selected to compete in the Student yachting worlds. Coming 3rd in Busa Team racing championships in my 3rd year, also winning the Top gun trophy. Been awarded colours for my sporting achievements.


Find out more about the race and Alan here.