AC45 Round the Island
The countdown to the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race has begun, just three days remain until the 82nd year of this classic yacht race. The JP Morgan BAR shore crew has been putting the AC45 together at Green Marine ready for racing this Saturday.
The team will start at 0510 with the other multihull classes for the 50 mile race around the Isle of Wight. The race will see 1459 boats with competitors from all walks of life, from world-renowned sailors to families and first time racers.
The team is watching the weather forecasts closely, this will be the first time the AC45 has ever competed in this event, conventionally sailed on courses close to the shore, sailing the AC45 around the Isle of Wight will not be easy. The America’s Cup World Series events involve short races, where the team would only race for 20–30 minutes at a time. The boats are very physical, so the crew will be working intensely as they manage the weather, the close contact with the fleet and the tidal challenges this course is famous for.
This event will see a new line up for the JPMorgan BAR crew, a mainly British affair as Ainslie is joined by headsail trimmer Andrew McLean (NZL) and bowman Matt Cornwell, both of whom have a wealth of AC45 sailing experience competing for Team Korea in the 2012-13 America Cup World Series. The other two crew roles on board will be taken by runner/floater Andrew Mills and wing trimmer Mark Andrews. Both sail as part of Team GBR in the Finn and were training partners for Ainslie in the lead up to London 2012. They join the team after recent success at the Delta Lloyd regatta, where Andrews won and Mills finished third. MacLean replaces Mark Buckeley who has broken some bones in his hand and will now coach the team.
The current multihull course record stands at 3 hours 8mins 29 secs, set by Francis Joyon in 2001 aboard his ORMA 60 trimaran, Dexia Eure et Loire. For any attempt on the race record conditions would need to be perfect for the team. The current forecast looks positive with 12 –15 knots from NNW expected.
Matt Cornwell who has competed in the race before on an Extreme 40 has experienced racing these fast mulithull’s on this course.
“I went round on the Team Origin Extreme 40 in 2008 and again in 2009. In 2008 we were within about 18 minutes off the record but fog, lumpy seas and 20+ knots downwind between Hurst and St Catherine’s made for a very tricky leg. That will be a fairly key part of the race this year too as we will be pushing a building tide and we need to get around St Catherine’s as quickly as possible."
The crew will be working with their own weather forecasting team as well as the official race forecaster to make a decision on the feasibility of racing on the day. “These are amazing boats, but they have their limits and they are predominantly raced inshore so we will be watching the forecasts closely to decide whether we can compete in the conditions on race day,” explained Cornwall.