Not the world's biggest yacht race
Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, or even on this revered website, a reader has correctly pointed out that the Island Sailing Club's Round the Island Race is in fact Europe's (and possibly the world's) second largest yacht race and not the largest as the race's propaganda would have us believe.
While Saturday will see 'more than 1600' yachts cross the Royal Yacht Squadron line on the annual anticlockwise loop of the Isle of Wight, the Barcolana race held over second weekend in October each year on the Gulf of Trieste out of the Italian port of Barcola last year boasted 1,968 entries (a significant jump from the mere 1,795 in 2000). More remarkable still for this vast collection of boats is that they have a single start. This, we are told, necessitates competitors arriving early to get their place on the line, a little like queueing for Harrods' sale.
However the Barcolana isn't open to multihulls and Saturday's Round the Island Race will see a showdown between the 60ft trimaran Rexona Menand Tracy Edwards' mighty 24 hour record breaker, the 110ft catamaran Maiden II.
Both boats will be jockeying for line honours and a crack at both the race course record set last year by Rodney Pattisson on Francis Joyon's 60ft trimaran Dexia Eure et Loir, and the outright course record (ie not during the race) broken last autumn by Steve Fossett's PlayStation. Last year Pattisson lopped 45 hours off his previous race record setting a new time of just 3 hours, 10 minutes and 11 seconds, setting a new outright record for the course as well. Last 9 November Steve Fossett aboard his 125ft catamaran took a further 36 minutes off Dexia Eure et Loir's record with a new course record time of 2 hours 33 minutes and 55 seconds.
Although a little long in the tooth compared to latest crop of 60ft trimarans Rexona Men is technically the 'fastest' 60ft trimaran in the world - in the 2001 Quebec-St Malo race she clocked an outstanding 625.3 miles in a day (her previous record was 540 miles). Similarly Maiden II recently became the fastest boat in the world over a 24 hour period when she clocked up 697 miles in 24 hours. Rexona Men will again be steered by Yvan Bourgnon, who was on board for the Quebec-St Malo race, while Maiden II will be driven by multihull speed merchant Brian Thompson, who was at the helm of PlayStation in the Round the Island race two years ago, albeit in light, non-record breaking conditions.
So who will win this David v Goliath contest? Regardless of what they say size matters and it is hard to see Maiden II being beaten unless it goes light. In this case the smaller more nimble trimaran with less whetted surface area may take it.
Hot on their heels will be Peter Bryant's 40ft trimaran ProVu. 15 years ago, as Biscuits Cantreau, this boat made a big impression on the first season of the short lived Formula 40 circuit and spawned a series of additional Biscuits Cantreaus which were unbeatable in subsequent seasons in the hands of Jean le Cam (now skipper of the 60ft trimaran Bonduelle).
There will also be an interesting competition between the Open 60s. Ellen MacArthur will be at the helm of her Vendee Globe steed Kingfisher, while she will be up against Emma Richards in the Open 60 Pindar. If you didn't know Pindar had an Open 60, this boat is in fact Josh Hall's Gartmoreon which madforsailing sailed the Round the Island last year. This is assuming she is ready. The boat recently lost her mast following a severe gale in the Atlantic and Hall has been racing against time to get a new spar built and fitted. Mike Golding's Ecover is still in Caen awaiting a new rig following her dismasting in the Lamour Plage Open 60 Grand Prix and Golding tells us will not be taking part.
With the near destruction of Mike Slade's maxi Leopard, current holder of the monohull record for the course, any attempt on this record will be down to the Open 60s and if there is a reasonable amount of breeze this could be a possibility.
Otherwise the boats to watch are the Farr 52s - GBR Challenge boss Peter Harrison's Chernikeef 2 and Kit Hobday and Tim Louis' Bear of Britain. Then there is Robert Condon's Swan 70 Serano, registered to Leonidas Christian Akif for this race, Alex Cooper on the Whitbread 60 Sunergy and the Sydney 60 Warpath (formerly Adam Gosling's Yes) that will be undertaking her first race with new owner Giles Redpath.
Adam Gosling will co-skippering Peter Morton's Mandrake, winner of the Gold Roman Bowl last year. "If there's a long downwind leg Mandrake will look pretty good. Downwind we were taking time out of the Farr 52s at the IRM Nationals," he told madfor sailing.
Also racing will be Conrad Humphreys on a Challenge yacht. Among his crew will be actor Jeremy Irons.
Blind sailor Arthur Greatrex, who with partially-sighted Gary Murphy won the European disabled championship last year, will also take on this year's Round the Island Race. Greatrex will be joining Murphy and skipper Alex Duff, a paraplegic sailor who has just passed his Yachtmaster certificate at the UKSA at Cowes, to race aboard Egret, a Colgate 26 from the UKSA.
Round the Island Race 2002 Start Times
08:30 Multihulls, including Maiden II (orange flag)
08:50 BT Challenge yachts, original and modern gaffers (brown flag)
09:00 Sportsboats and dayboats (turquoise flag).
09:10 Large IRC racing cruisers, including Kingfisher (pink flag)
09:20 ISC handicap group A, Sunsail 37s (green flag)
09:30 IRC group 2 cruiser/racers (black flag)
09:40 IRC group 3, Contessa 32s and Sonatas (blue flag)
09:50 ISC handicap group B and classic racing yachts (white flag)
10:00 ISC handicap group C and Folkboats (purple flag)
See page two for Mike Broughton's forecast...