The 81st J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race is all set to be a stunner with the forecast looking lively but not unduly worrying, for the 1,647 entries taking part in the 50 nautical mile race heading west from the Royal Yacht Squadron line this Saturday (30 June).
Britain’s favourite yacht race has become an institution, not only on the international sailing calendar but also in Britain’s sporting calendar. This year’s Race takes on a special significance as the organisers, the Island Sailing Club, the Title Sponsor J.P. Morgan Asset Management and the family of nine Race Partners welcome a number of Team GBR’s Olympic and Paralympic sailors to the event in the year that Great Britain hosts the Games.
Familiar names such as the triple Olympic gold medallist, Team GBR Finn sailor Ben Ainslie, the 2.4mR Paralympic sailor Helena Lucas, Saskia Clark and Hannah Mills, the 470 Class World Champions and Olympic hopefuls, will be joined in this year’s Race by Dame Ellen MacArthur, the Radio 1 DJ Rob da Bank and international rugby union player, Nick Easter. Hannah Mills has been selected to start the race this year and will fire the first gun at 0700. The starting sequence then continues every ten minutes until 08.40, with 11 starts altogether to get the 23 classes safely on their way from Cowes heading westabout.
Selecting those entries to watch out for on the day is always tough as there are myriads to choose from. Certainly those watching the tracking online and following the exciting live blog on the official website should keep a close eye on the current monohull race record holder ICAP Leopard, starting at 0700. This 100ft Farr Supermaxi, helmed by Mike Slade, is back to defend her record that stands at 3 hrs 53 mins 05 secs, set in 2008. The event was also looking forward to welcoming back the Race multihull record holder, Francis Joyon, on his 50ft trimaran IDEC but he had to pull his entry at the last minute. Joyon’s record set in 2001 still stands at 3 hrs 08 mins 29 secs.
Keep it in the family
Others to watch out for this year include the Contessa 26 Maya, a vintage 1973 beauty has just been totally refurbished at the Jeremy Rogers boat yard in Lymington and is being sailed by one of her owners, Kevin Collins, along with Round the Island old hands Simon and Kit Rogers. Simon and Kit have previously won the Gold Roman Bowl three times with their father Jeremy in the Contessa 26 Rosina of Beaulieu.
"We've just had Maya in the yard for a complete refit and I was really pleased when we were asked by her owner if we'd like to help take her Round the Island; it's such a fantastic race," said Kit Rogers who has recently taken over as Managing Director at Jeremy Rogers Limited. Last year, silver Olympic medallist Nick Rogers (cousin to Simon and Kit) and Joe Hutchison won the Gold Roman Bowl in their Contessa 26 Sundowner.
“Nick is away racing in Extreme 40s and isn't able to compete in the Round the Island this year so we're going to do our best to keep the Gold Roman Bowl in the family,” said Simon Rogers.
Meanwhile Crispin Beaumont, aged 14 and from Kidderminster, Worcs, is possibly one of the youngest helms in this year’s Race on X-Tatic, an Extreme 25 in the IRC Sportsboat Class. Crispin is racing with his father Leslie and other crew members include father and 14-year old son son duo Ian (dad) and Nicholas Wilson. Although this is his first Round the Island Race, RYA national junior intermediate squad member Crispin who normally helms a Topper or an RS 200, is not new to yacht racing having helmed in regattas in Milford Haven for the last two years with some success.
He is a keen racer winning the RS Feva grand prix at Chew Valley and the RS Feva end of seasons as well as coming second on count back at the Topper Autumn regatta 2011 and also second at the Topper Winter regatta 2012. So Crispin maybe one of the youngest helms in the race but he will nonetheless be looking for a good result.
Tomorrow begins the pre-Race build-up in earnest as the Island Sailing Club and J.P. Morgan Asset Management host the pre-Race press conference at the ISC at which a number of high profile competitors will be interviewed on stage in front of an invited audience of media, Race competitors and special guests.
Image in header: The magnificence that is the Round the Island Race (photo: Thierry Martinez)
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