RKJ and Velsheda join the party

Classic America's Cup weaponry to compete in this year's JPMorgan Asset Management Round the Island Race

Saturday April 19th 2008, Author: Flavia Bateson, Location: United Kingdom
Raymarine Yachtsman of the Year Sir Robin Knox-Johnston is a keen supporter of the JPMorgan Asset Management Round the Island Race. This year he will be the skipper aboard the 12m former America’s Cup yacht Sceptre.  No stranger to the round the island, Sir Robin has competed previously in Suhaili, the 32 foot ketch he built himself and in which he became the first solo, non-stop round the world sailor in 1968/9, while in contrast, last year he opted to race aboard his Open 60.

Sceptre was built in 1958 to mount the first challenge for the America’s Cup after the war. Due to the general austerity of the time, the rules were changed to allow boats in the International 12 Metre Class to compete. There was little opportunity to tune Sceptre for the event and she suffered from inferior sail technology at the time. Meeting the USA defender Columbia, she was well beaten. Returning to the UK Sceptre’s mast was moved aft to improve her balance and this transformed her performance. In the early 1960s, she was the boat to beat, sometimes with HRH The Duke of Edinburgh at the helm. Sceptre is now owned by Sceptre Preservation LLP, whose key objective is to safeguard this fine piece of yachting history for future generations. In this, her Golden Jubilee Year, Sceptre will be racing in the Classic Racing Yachts class.

In the 1930s the America’s Cup was the domain of the huge J Class boats. Ten were completed of which only three now remain. Velsheda, although not built as an AC contender, cut a dash at many events in the 1930s, including taking the King’s Cup at Cowes. She has participated in the Round the Island Race on several occasions. - joining the CHS class in 1989 and 1990 and transferring to the Classic Racing Yachts class when it was formed in 1991. She then reappeared in 2001, the America’s Cup Jubilee Year, after an extensive refit. The Island Sailing Club is delighted to welcome her back to the event this year when she will join the IRC class. Velsheda has been lovingly restored and in a way which makes her transition from cruising to racing yacht a straight-forward matter. This includes the addition of guardrails, which were certainly not available to her original racing crew.

Up to 1,800 boats are expected out on the water for this year’s JPMorgan Asset Management Round the Island Race. The standard entry fee closes on 7 June and late entries on 21 June 2008.

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