Actual and ICAP Leopard claim the line honours battles
The 81st J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race set sail from the Royal Yacht Squadron line, started by Olympic 470 sailor Hannah Mills, with over 1,600 boats heading in a westerly direction round the Isle of Wight.
With the southwesterly wind gusting above 20 knots for the start and forecast to build later in the day, so racing was canned for some of the smaller classes including sportsboats, J80s, 707s, SB20s (formerly known as SB3s) and the small MOCRA multihull fleet (LOA less than 9.15m) before even getting into sequence. There was also a safety call made for all competitors to wear lifejackets.
One of the top sights of the start was Eleonora, the magnificent 162ft replica of the 1910 Herreshoff schooner Westward with Ben Ainslie at the wheel.
In the battle for line honours, Mike Slade's newly relaunched ICAP Leopard led the charge down the Solent followed by the two French Multi50 trimarans Prince de Bretagne skippered by double Route du Rhum winner Lionel Lemonchois and Actual skippered by former Mini Transat winner Yves le Blevec. While the Irens-designed Prince de Bretagne led Actual down the Solent, the Verdier-designed Actual made a better job in the giant swell and occasional breaking waves rounding the Needles, the ebb being turned over nicely by the southwesterlies.
The two Multi 50s overhauled the mightly ICAP Leopard around the back of the island who flew back up the Solent with Actual finishing at 10:19:57, in a time of just 3 hours 9 minutes and 57 seconds, just one minute outside of the overall record. Prince de Bretagne came home second in a time of 3 hours 17 minutes and 35 seconds.
"It's great" said Yves le Blevec. "This is my second race around the Isle of Wight. The first was with Bruno Peyron on Orange. Actual for the first time, was the fastest in all categories in this magnificent race ... Yes, we are proud!"
ICAP Leopard was finished half an hour after Actual on the water in a time of 3 hours 59 minutes and 4 seconds.
Photos from World Wide Images: