Second biggest fleet for Round the Island1,735 boats and roughly 13,000 people will set off tomorrow on the Island Sailing Club's annual 50 mile anti-clockwise loop of the Isle of Wight in the Hoya Round the Island race. This will be the event's second biggest fleet ever in the 65 years that it has been running.
Among the fleet are a number of interesting boats.
At one end of the spectrum there is property developer Mike Slade's 90ft maxi Skandia Leopard. Slade has twice set monohull records for the course - first in 1991 on board Ocean Leopard and again in 1996 aboard his maxi Hoya Longobarda. His time of 5 hours, 12 minutes and 3 seconds still stands as the monohull record for the course, although the outright record is incredibly hanging in there after 15 years with Mike Whipp's time of 3 hours, 55 minutes and 28 seconds, set in his yellow 60ft trimaran Paragon.
At the other end of the spectrum in terms of size (if not performance) are the two Ultra 30s that will be braving the back of the island. Reloaded Red Square will be sailed by Russell Peters while Hoyawill have 49er silver medallist Ian Barker at the helm. If the breeze is up they will have a lively ride!
After spending a week getting to grips with big boat sailing during the Swan Europeans, Europe Gold medallist Shirley Robertson will be once again at the helm of Steven James' Swan 48 Jacobite.
With the forthcoming America's Cup Jubilee looming, at least two IACC boats will be going round. Eddie Warden Owen will be driving the former Il Moro de Venezia IV, renamed Hoya High Voltage. Depending upon the conditions GBR Challenge, the British America's Cup team, will be taking one of their boats around - the first big outing for the team, although perhaps not a test that bears much relation to Cup sailing.
A last minute entry is Vendee Globe/BT Global Challenge skipper Mike Golding. Mike decided not to take part in the Open 60 Grand Prix in Quiberon this weekend because it left too little time to get back to England for the announcement of his new sponsor for his former Team Group 4 Open 60 next week.
In the celebrity stakes, Geoff Hughes of TV shows The Royle Family and Heartbeat will be competing on his yacht Wayward.
I will be sailing with Vendee Globe skipper Josh Hall on board the Open 60 Gartmore. Josh is now based in France and has a new group of sponsors headed by Gartmore Investment Managers. Because of this his boat has been given another lurid paintjob so I will be taking my sunglasses.
Have a good race
See page two for useful information...