Round the Island preview

Will the record come tumbling down this year, plus the boats to look out for

Thursday June 26th 2008, Author: Flavia Bateson, Location: United Kingdom
The JPMorgan Asset Management Round the Island Race is to take place this Saturday. With 16,000 sailors out on the water it is the largest annual participation sporting event in the UK, after the Flora London Marathon, Great North and Great South Runs. It is also the second largest sailing event in terms of numbers of boats taking part, behind only the extraordinary single-start Barcolana event in Italy.

Conditions for this year's event are looking lively with 20 knots of southwesterly wind forecast, dropping slightly around lunchtime. While these conditions aren't perfect - a mid-morning shift from northwest to southwest is optimum - they are pretty good for ICAP Leopard and some of the multihull to have a crack at the race records.

See the two hourly hi-res wind maps on page 2....

Olympians and Paralympians

Competing in their final event before leaving for Beijing, members of the RYA Team GBR will be racing in a number of classes. Finn star and triple Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie joins Alex Thomson and F1 star Lewis Hamilton on the Open 60 Hugo Boss while European and British Laser Champion Paul Goodison helms the TP52 Team Volvo for life. 470 partners Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield will be going head-to-head for a change, in the Sports Boat Rule class, vying with 21 identical J/80s for the Nautica Watches Trophy. Others in this class include 49er pairing Mark Asquith and Paul Campbell-James who narrowly missed selection for the Olympic Games. Hannah Stodel is in our UK Paralympic team. She will be honing her skills in one Sonar, while her team support Dan Parsons does his best to outwit her in another. They too will be neck-and-neck round the course.

Young sailors get their chance
Rory Spriggs is aged 16. This will be his second Round the Island Race and first as skipper. His last Christmas holidays were spent crossing the Atlantic to gain his RYA Day Skipper qualification. His sailing experience ranges from Optimists to RS Fevas and matchracing. Rory’s crew on the Beneteau First 210 Gusto are all friends from Abingdon School, with the exception of one adult. The Dufour 33 Talybont II will also have a young helm. Skipper Karl Brunjes says his 14 year old son Hugh has been driving the boat  for a couple of years now and is a far better sailor than the adults on board, including his father! He’s been given special dispensation from his headmaster at Lancing College to join the race. Members of the RYA Youth Programme have been given the opportunity to swap their dinghies and surfboards for a 72ft yacht, all thanks to the Tall Ships Youth Trust. Challenger 4 will not only be up against the fastest boats in the fleet, in IRC0, but also three identical boats from the TSYT. The sailing team from Milton Abbey School will be racing the Baltic 42 Going Concern while the young crew on Paddiywack, owned by the charity Island Youth Water Activities Centre, will all enjoying their first taste of racing.

Top of the ratings
Heading the handicap ratings in IRC0 is ICAP Leopard, skippered by Mike Slade, the current holder of the monohull race record. This 100 foot super-maxi has just broken the transatlantic passage time from New York to The Lizard (for boats with powered winches) and earlier this week smashed the round Ireland record.  Built in Lymington to a Rob Humphreys design, Team Russia’s Volvo 70 was launched just a few weeks ago. The boat is named Kastaka, Russian for killer whale, following the partnership of Team Russia with the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society. The 30m New Zealand maxi Zana was also built for pace, having competed in three Rolex Sydney-Hobart races. Former Global Challenge skipper Mark Denton will be calling the shots on board.

In the ISC Rating System division, the 80ft Dynamique Coconut is one of the race’s long-distance visitors. Her owner David Teece and his family are in the country on vacation - and of course to take part in the event. Next rated Capricorno is a 1991 Briand design which raced in the 1994 Admiral’s Cup. Her crew also includes personalities from the world of motor sport: British Touring Car Championship drivers Gordon Shedden, Tom Shilton and Matt Neal. Roger Guy’s Kimosabi is a CNC64.

The Grand Prix and Racing Multihull section is headed by Ross Hobson’s Charleston (formerly Ideal Stelrad). She is a modified Formula 28 catamaran, 28 foot long, 37 foot wide on massive carbon racks and with 1,000 sq foot of sail on a 500kg boat. Charleston gives time to the Extreme 40s as well as to the next ranked multi Musandam (Loik Gallon) which Ellen MacArthur raced as B&Q/Castorama. Nigel Harley’s Firebird Fly Half and Phil Cotton’s Seacart 30 Buzz are also ones to watch.

Classic Racing Yachts and Old Gaffers

Sceptre, Britain’s first post-war America’s Cup Challenger, will be marking the 50th anniversary of her launching. She weighs in at 36 tons and will be skippered on this occasion by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, himself celebrating the 40th anniversary of his solo, non-stop circumnavigation. Gipsy Moth IV was built in 1966 for another round-the-world sailor, Sir Francis Chichester. Following major restoration, she is now owned by UKSA. Mary Lunn, an Uffa Fox design, started life in 1940s Bombay. After the war she was shipped back to the UK and sold in Yarmouth.

Boats in the Original Old Gaffer section have histories that go back many years. Kelpie is a gaff cutter built in 1903 and has won her class for nine years. On board will be her owner, local Cowes businessman Richard Bendy and Etchells World Champion Paul Blowers. There is a certain amount of déjà vu concerned with the Mevagissey Tosher Dolphin. The first Round the Island Race in 1931 was won by a Cornish fishing boat, Merry Conceit. Dolphin is also an open fishing boat, from Cornwall and  built in 1930. Merry Conceit was bought for £45 back in the 1930s. The princely sum of £30 was paid for Dolphin by her current owners Pete Williams and Charlie Ford, who found her rotting away in a creek.

The oldest yacht in the race is Rosenn, a Solent One Design built as a racing boat in 1896 and the only one still afloat. She was found on the East Coast by journalist Bob Fisher and double Olympian Barry Dunning. She is still a regular racer at Lymington Town Sailing Club, though with not a helpful winch to be seen.

Past winners go out to race again

The 2007 winner of the Gold Roman Bowl is Edward Donald and his crew on the Folkboat Madelaine. Ed is back again this year but with another motivation for winning. Having undergone successful treatment for Hodgkinson’s Lymphoma himself, Madelaine will be supporting Leukaemia Research. So far he has raised over £16,000.

Mark Taylor won the Silver Gilt Roman Bowl in his South Coast One Design Marbella. He and his boat are the same age but Marbella was written off earlier in her career having been fire damaged. Subsequently restored, Mark bought new sails in 2007 and achieved his spectacular win. The Rogers family from Lymington - designer Jeremy and his sons - are the only ones to have won the Gold Roman Bowl on three occasions in the same boat. Their Contessa 26 Rosina of Beaulieu is now enjoying life in the West Country. The Rogers team will be back to race, but this time in a Contessa 32  Gigi, immortalised in the book Cape Horn to Starboard, by John Kretschmer. Jeremy and his wife Fiona discovered Gigi was in a state of neglect in Galveston, Texas, and arranged to have her shipped back and restored.

First  out of the blocks

The  Open 60s are the first to go at 6am, with three skippers ready to line up for the Vendee Globe, round-the-world solo, non-stop race later this year. As well as Alex Thomson on Hugo Boss teaming up with Ben Ainslie and F1 star Lewis Hamilton, record-setter Dee Caffari will race aboard Aviva and Mike Golding on Ecover.

Ten minutes later, the Extreme 40s cross the line. Their skippers include Olympian Shirley Robertson ( JPMorgan Asset Management), Dame Ellen MacArthur ( BT), Rob Greenhalgh ( Team Origin), Chris Draper ( Oman Sail) and Johnnie Hutchcroft ( Volvo Ocean Race). In 2007, Ellen took line honours for the race, at the helm of an X40, finishing in 4 hours 6 minutes 3 seconds.

The Island Sailing Club is grateful for the continued support of title sponsor JPMorgan Asset Management and race partners Bénéteau, Britannia Events, Dean & Reddyhoff, Nautica Watches, Old Pulteney Whisky, Raymarine, Red Funnel, St Margaret’s Direct and Volvo Car UK.

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