A total of 1,692 will be on the startline tomorrow for the JPMorgan Asset Management Round the Island Race

First off the start line at the JPMorgan Asset Management Round the Island Race at 0640 tomorrow, will be the Open 60s with their impressive collection of round-the-world skippers – Mike Golding, Emma Richards, Conrad Humphreys, Roland Jourdain and Nick Moloney.

Topping the IRC rated section at 1.774 is ‘Cityindex Maximus’ owned by Bill Buckley and Charles Brown. This 100ft New Zealand yacht competed in the Rolex Transatlantic Challenge and will be sailing with a crew of 22. Small by comparison, at only 36ft, Stephen Fein’s one off ‘Full Pelt’ rates higher than the current monohull record holder ‘Leopard’ (Mike Slade). Charles Dunstone helming ‘Nokia Enigma’ (Reichel Pugh Maxi Sled) will be trying the beat ‘Leopard’s’ time which has stood since 2001.

Further down the rating list three Farr 45s will be in keen contention, including ‘Volvo for Life’ skippered by Shirley Robertson. There are also three DK36s – ‘Linklaters Fidessa Fastwave’, ‘Shockwave’ and ‘Erivale’. Adam Gosling’s new Corby 29 ‘Yes!’ is also looking for success. Five J/80s in the sportsboat class will be raced by complete novices from five secondary schools on the Isle of Wight. As well as learning to sail, the students have been studying the business management aspects of putting together a campaign. The team from Cowes High School is the youngest and includes Jim McMillan, whose brother Leigh is a Team GBR Tornado sailor. Two other J/80s are being skippered by Athens 49er medallists. Chris Draper and Simon Hiscocks will have keen, young crews who have come through the Volvo RYA Keelboat Programme.

Two new designs will be taking to the water for the first time. ‘Tardis’ is a Catri 24 Multihull from Latvian designer Aldis Eglajs. ‘Tide’ is a Cowes-built and designed Tide 28 trailer-sailer which can also take a 70hp engine to deliver 18 knots. Some boats, however, are over 100 years old, including ‘Kelpie’ in the gaffer class and ‘Mikado’ a Fife cutter and probably the oldest boat with an IRC rating.

Competitors range in age too from Carl Murphy, 15 years, sailing ‘Cariad’ with crew also under 16 (plus a token adult), to Willy Kay, who at age 79 thinks he might be the oldest skipper!

There are anniversaries to be celebrated, including the South Coast One Design’s 50th. It will also be 25 years to the day since ‘Creightons Naturally’ (originally ‘Ocean Greyhound’) entered the Round the Island, her very first race, when she missed the record by eight minutes.

The race over, ‘Largo’ hopes to make heads turn on her return to Cowes, flying a giant red ensign which was used in the recent television drama about Shackleton’s ship ‘Endurance’.