In the bag after 40 years

James Boyd spoke to Simon Rogers about their win in the Round the Island Race

Monday June 24th 2002, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom
Surprise winner of the Round the Island Race's Gold Roman Bowl this year was well known Lymington-based yacht designer and builder Jeremy Rogers, who sailed his own Contessa 26 Rosina of Beaulieu to victory, finishing just 17 seconds ahead of the highly rated Farr 52 Bear of Britain. madfor sailing spoke to Rogers' son and yacht designer Simon Rogers about how they got on.

"It's taken my father 40 years to do it! He's been second three times always on Admiral's Cup boats and various things over the years. It is ironic that he did it in on one of his original production boats," said Rogers. The Contessa 26 was originally conceived as a modified Folkboat and was built from 1966 until 1976. Rosina - the 'works team' as Rogers jokes - is a late example built in 1974.

"It is an absolutely standard Contessa 26," continued Rogers. "It was bought as a boat that had been taken apart to rebuild. My father bought it and spent a couple of years doing it up. There were a few minor modifications to the interior to make better use of internal space - there are more fold out surfaces, the chart table is nicer. It has the original rig. Other than that it is nice and new looking and straight off the shelf. A number of bigger boats when they passed us, looked down and were saying 'what a lovely little boat that is". The last race the boat did was the Round the Island race in 2001, and other than that she is used as a family cruising boat.

"Our total budget for the race was £550 - the price of a new headsail," says Rogers, who admitted that he has had a close look at the rating of the boat to make sure the sails measure properly and made sure they had an 'endorsed' IRC certificate. "We were determined that no one was going to question our rating. We are 100% squeaky clean."

For the race they sailed three up with Jeremy Rogers steering, Simon in the middle and younger son Dave forward. "Last year Nick Rogers [Team GBR 470 sailor] and a team youngsters took it. This year my father said 'right, this year I'm going to show you how to do it!" The boat only went in the water on Tuesday as Jeremy Rogers had been busy preparing everyone else's boats in his yard.

Of the event Rogers says it was a classic Round the Island Race. "It wasn't a small or big boat race. The winners of each class were fairly close and we only won by 17 seconds. I think the rating worked brilliantly. Class 1 had a general recall and it's hard to know whether it was a benefit for them or not. Tidally it helped them, but they had to go through the small boats. We had all the class 1 boats coming through us at Hurst Narrows. We had a very good race, we did all the right things."

With so many boats taking part Rogers says that one of the secrets to the race is simply not getting hit. "There are a lot of tight squeezes, you are constantly dodging boats. We had a couple of tread needle situations between a couple of boats. But you've got to sail the race in such a way - even if you are on starboard you have to be prepared to duck transoms. Fortunately we sailed an absolutely clean race."

For them the wind strength of 20 knots proved just right for them. "We have a furling headsail and the decision was whether or not we were going to be able to hold the full rig. And we were. Any more than 20 knots we would have been stuggling. And we didn't run out of breeze. We had 20 knots all the way round."

Despite winning the Gold Roman Bowl, Rogers says that their performance did not show a marked improve over previous years. "In our class we won by 14 minutes last year and we did again this year." He added "it was a fantasic fleet. We're thrill to win the Gold Roman Bowl, it is a holy grail of yachting. Not a lot of people win it. Every year, you say "if only we'd done this..." Well this year we don't have to say that."

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