RAFSA members Flt Lt Marcus Wilson and Flt Lt Rich Steel launch bid to compete in next year's Round Britain and Ireland two-handed race aboard J/109

Two members of the RAF Sailing Association have, subject to funding, been given the go ahead to compete in next year’s Round Britain and Ireland two-handed race sailing RAFSA’s new J/109 Red Arrow see previous news story here. 

Flt Lt Marcus Wilson and Flt Lt Rich Steel, who both currently hold RYA Yachtmaster (Offshore) certificates, will spend this year and the early part of next year in training leading up to the race which starts on 11 June 2006.

The 2,000-mile race, established in 1966 by Blondie Haslar, is held every four years from the Royal Western Yacht Club in Plymouth and includes four compulsory stops of 48 hours at Kinsale, Castlebay, Lerwick and Lowestoft.

According to Wilson and Steel the objective of RAFSA participation in the event is to present a serious, determined and credible entry to an internationally recognised Race, with the aim of publicising RAFSA and developing advanced planning and racing skills within RAFSA which would allow future participation in top class events.

Without sounding too pessimistic the RAF duo still have a long way to go before they actually cross the start line next year including securing sponsorship, putting in an adequate amount of training and completing a 300-mile qualifying passage.

Commenting on the current situation Wilson said: “Rich and I appreciate there is still a long way to go but we are confident that this is the right level for RAFSA to be racing at and given sufficient funding we are capable of competing seriously. We are both excited by the prospect and looking forward to the challenges of the next 16 months which will include fundraising and team preparation as well as sailing Red Arrow.”

With well over a year to go to the start there are still no official entries to the race but speaking to Peter Taylor – Round Britain and Ireland Race Director – that’s a fairly usual situation at this stage. Commenting, Taylor said: “It’s still early days but we’ve had an incredible amount of interest. So far 24 teams have come forward including a couple more J/109s, and we’ve had confirmation of six definite entries. We hope the eventual entry list will exceed 40.”

For more details on Royal Western Yacht Club’s Round Britain and Ireland Two-Handed Race www.rwyc.org