Nick Rogers helmed the Contessa 26 Sundowner to victory at the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race on Saturday
After a day dominated by the weather which threw everything it had to offer at the record-breaking fleet that competed in Saturday’s 80th Anniversary J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, the last of the 1900+ yachts home, Pendragon of Dartmouth, a Jeanneau Sun Fizz 40, made it across the finish line a mere three seconds before the line closed officially at 2200hrs, bagging themselves the ‘Tenacity Trophy’ at today’s Prizegiving at the Island Sailing Club.
Some 16,000 sailors faced wind speeds of up to 28 knots and there were huge swells to contend with off the Needles and at St. Catherine’s as the record-breaking fleet of 1,900 yachts undertook this most famous 50 nautical mile westabout Island circumnavigation on Saturday. A number of incidents were reported to the Coastguard, including ‘Man Overboard’ reports and capsizes as well as dis-mastings. There was a lot of sail damage across the fleet that ranged from high tech racers through to many smaller boats competing. However, a spokesman for the Race Management team at the Island Sailing Club, stressed that some of these incident reports were not attributable to the Race and were involving spectator boats rather than competitors.
Dave Atkinson, Assistant Principal Race Officer of the day said, “It was a successful race for the Island Sailing Club and we have received many compliments on running a great but challenging event. We’re looking forward to welcoming competitors in 2012 for another record-breaking year.”
Thousands of weary but generally happy sailors returned to Cowes and the marinas along the South Coast of England from mid afternoon yesterday, all feeling justifiably proud of their immense achievement in getting round the Island safely in tough conditions for even the most experienced and hardened sailor.
Nick Rogers, who usually sails a 470 with partner Chris Grube, helmed the Contessa 26 Sundowner to victory at the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race.
With more than 1,900 boats and 16,000 competitors jostling for space on a crowded Solent, Rogers mastered difficult conditions to win the Gold Roman Bowl, awarded to the best corrected time around the 50-nautical mile course, after handicaps are calculated.
Indeed, winning the trophy has become something of a family affair in recent years, with uncle Jeremy Rogers claiming the coveted prize in 2002, 2003 and 2006.
“I’ve been trying for a while, it’s a bit of a family tradition and I don’t dare think how many times I’ve been round the Isle of Wight, so to have won is really pleasing,” said Rogers.
“It is really important to me, it’s totally different to the Olympics. It’s a great challenge, there are so many other boats and so many different elements.”
It caps a memorable few weeks for new father Rogers, after he and Grube finished top Brits at the ISAF World Cup regatta in Weymouth, securing selection for next month’s critical Olympic test event.
“I’ve just had my second son, so I’m really, really proud. My wife is fantastic, she did such a great job and it has just been an incredible two weeks, on and off the water.”
Line Honours went to French skipper Lionel Lemonchois and his 50ft multihull Prince de Bretagne who were first to cross the finish line in 3hrs 49m and 58s.
Meanwhile, Ben Ainslie will refocus sights on his London 2012 campaign after a ‘fun’ sail around the Solent in 30 knots of wind and 20 foot waves.
Ainslie helmed 40 foot yacht Keronimo with a crew that included Rugby World Cup winner Will Greenwood. He may have three Olympic golds but the 80-year old Gold Roman Bowl still remains elusive from his impressive resume.
He was hopeful of his chances of winning the top prize, won a record four times by former British prime minister Ted Heath, but the conditions, which weren’t aided by a startline tussle with his one-time colleagues on Team Origin, who he skippered to last year’s ISAF match racing world title, conspired against best-laid plans.
“It was pretty extreme conditions, we had 30 knots of wind and very rough waves,” said Ainslie.
“It was fun and we all got back in one piece but I’m just focusing on the Finn sailing now and training down at Portland and Weymouth and getting myself ready for the Olympic test event in August.
“It’s slowly building it back up. I’ll have three days sailing next week and then I’ll step it up to four days then five days for the final three weeks up to the event.”
The final number of boats to cross the finish line in Cowes was 1,302 and there were 438 retirements and 16 DSQ (disqualified) and/or OCS (on course side).
The Race has become progressively more high profile as enhanced technology and communications has helped spread the scale and excitement of the Race farther and more widely around the globe. On Race Day, the total number of page impressions on the Race website amounted to 393,000 which is 100,000 up on 2010’s site visitors. The Race Viewer, allowing online spectators to track boats of their choice, was downloaded by over 32,000 people. The interactive Race Progress Blog produced by the Media Centre and Race Control attracted 17,762 visitors over the course of twelve hours with appreciative comments coming in from as far away as Australia, the Philippines, Mexico and the US.
RTI in Numbers
Entered – 1908
Finished – 1302
Retired – 438
DSQ – 16