Professionals to line up with families at the JPMorgan Asset Management Round the Island Race

The JPMorgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, organised by the Island Sailing Club, takes place tomorrow (Saturday 20 June) with a total entry of 1,779 boats. Professional and Olympic sailors line up with family cruisers, sportsboats, classic yachts and one designs, in Britain’s most popular sailing area.

Top of the ratings
IRC0 is headed by current race record holder Mike Slade’s 30m super maxi ICAP Leopard. The crew comprises Volvo Ocean Race, America’s Cup and Admiral’s Cup sailors headed by Mike Slade’s professional boat captain of 18 years, Chris Sherlock.

Tony Todd’s Performance Yachts 100 Liara is the new kid on the block. Built by Southern Ocean Marine to a Dixon Yacht Design, she was launched in New Zealand in February 2009. Skipper Ross Appleby, a graduate from Southampton University, has taken Tony Todd’s previous yachts to success in the ARC, Guadeloupe to Antigua Race and Nelson’s Pursuit Race.

Given Liara’s 5m draft, Ross will be denied some traditional tide cheating manoeuvres, presenting an interesting challenge. On handicap, ICAP Leopard is rated 25% higher than Liara, so if Leopard finishes the race in four hours Liara can finish in five and still beat her.

First out of the blocks
At 07:30 the boats in IRC0 are joined by the Open 60s and Clipper 68s. Sailing hero Sir Robin Knox-Johnston has raced in the event many times (including recently on Suhaili – the yacht he built and went on to be the first to sail solo, non-stop round the world). This year he rejoins Grey Power, the Open 60 in which he completed his second solo circumnavigation. He and Admiral of the Island Sailing Club Robin Aisher are old friends and will be enjoying each other’s company once again.

BT comes from the Offshore Challenges team. Skipper Sebastien Josse is a former Figaro sailor who went on to the Vendee Globe in 2004. Sadly, hitting a growler in the Southern Ocean compromised his chances of reaching a podium place. Fellow OC team member Dame Ellen MacArthur will be joining Sebastien.

Artemis, built in New Zealand and used in the 2002/3 Around Alone Race, won her class in the Round the Island Race in 2007, a result skipper Simon Clay will be glad to repeat. In addition, Steve White – who completed the most recent Vendee on a shoestring budget – will be on board Toe in the Water once again, supporting the services charity.

Ten minutes later, at 07:40 it’s the turn of the multihulls. French skipper Francis Joyon has held the race multihull record since 2001. This year he returns in the giant trimaran Idec. This start is shared with the Extreme 40s. Ben Ainslie heads an all-star cast on JPMorgan Asset Management/TeamOrigin with Volvo Ocean Race winning skipper Mike Sanderson. Russell Coutts has his first taste of this race on Team Aqua whilst three more highly respected X40s complete an ultra-competitive class.

Solent racing favourites
The J/80 one-design class has extracted results for the first time in the race. Other one designs are well represented including 26 Sigma 33s, 11 Contessa 26s, 28 Laser SB3s and 22 Folkboats. Triple Gold Roman Bowl winner Jeremy Rogers joins the Contessa 32 class with Gigi whilst the SCOD’s include runner up in the entire ISCRS fleet last year Marbella. The Nicholson 32s will once again be vying for the Halmatic Trophy.

GBR Olympians and Paralympians
Double Olympic 470 silver medallist Nick Rogers swaps a dinghy for a keel boat and will skipper the TP52 Volvo for life 1. Volvo for life 2 is a Farr 52 with fellow 470 silver medallist Joe Glanfield helming. Joe’s crew includes Paralympic sailor Helena Lucas.

Triple gold medallist Ben Ainslie does a different kind of swap – one hull for two. He competes in the Extreme 40 catamaran class on JPMorgan Asset Management/TEAMORIGIN. 49er medallist Chris Draper crews on the X40 Oman Sail Masirah.

Gaffers and classic racing yachts
Ocean Pearl was built in Scotland in 1933 and fished out of Peterhead until the 1960s. She was then taken south and found by her current owner, Nick Gates from Emsworth, in a disused tarmac works in Staines in 1998. She is one of several yachts in the race that have been found in a derelict state and brought back to life. The 1958 classic racing yacht Cherete was about to be burned as a wreck when shipwright Brian Haugh decided to restore her. So far the project has taken 18 months.

The oldest boat in the race is Rosenn (left) owned by yachting journalist Bob Fisher and Barry Dunning. She was built in 1896 and is the last remaining Solent one-design of the 22 built. The gaff-rigged classic was built locally on the Medina and has been fully restored. Barry has assembled an awesome crew including one of the world’s leading sailing coaches, Jim Saltonstall and RORC CEO Eddie Warden-Owen. Rosenn is a regular racer at Lymington.

Charities enjoy a challenge

Sponsors JPMorgan Asset Management and Beneteau are offering four charities the opportunity to raise awareness and funds whilst racing. Macmillan, Prostate UK, Breast Cancer Care and The Ellen MacArthur Trust will compete in identical new Oceanis 37s. The yachts are crewed by those helping to support the fight against cancer, including many who have undergone or are undergoing treatment.

Ambassadors for the charities will also be afloat including comedian Dave Spikey and singer Jonathan Ansell. Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson is the skipper aboard the Ellen MacArthur Trust entry.

This year’s Round the Island Race sees the Sigma 38 Offshore One Design Class Association coming of age. There will be 31 out racing, demonstrating the continued popularity of this highly competitive design.

The RAF Benevolent Society is celebrating its 90th anniversary and to mark the occasion the RAF Sailing Association’s J/109 Red Arrow will fly a new spinnaker.

Lady Belle’s sail number might give a clue as to her age. It’s 1909. The Falmouth Quay Punt is 100 years old and returning to racing after a 15 year gap. And finally, the classic racing sloop Danegeld celebrates 50 years since last winning the Round the Island Race. She has been renovated over the last four years, converting from cruising mode back to racing trim.