The weather picture for the record-breaking race looks to have changed significantly
As the Race Management Team at the Island Sailing Club in Cowes commences the countdown to the start of the 80th Anniversary Round the Island Race this Saturday (25 June), boats have already started arriving in Cowes. The event has attracted a record number of entries this year, now standing at 1,908 since entries closed last Saturday.
And it looks like they could be in for some stronger winds than previously anticipated. A low pressure is moving across the Atlantic, and could result in wind speeds of 20-30 knots on Saturday morning. Watch Wednesday’s weather briefing….
Rod Nicholls, Commodore of the Island Sailing Club, commented: “We’re all very excited at the prospect of welcoming a record fleet on the Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes early on Saturday morning. We’re hoping for good sailing conditions to help get everyone away on time and safely round the Island.”
The first start is at 0600 when the gun will be fired by TV personality Denise van Outen to commence a series of class starts lasting one hour 40 minutes that sees eleven different classes of boat set off on their epic one-day racing adventure.
The first finisher, taking line honours, but not necessarily winning the famous Gold Roman Bowl, is expected to cross the finish line back in Cowes at around 0930 after completing the 50 nautical mile westabout course. Lionel Lemonchois, a former winner of the Route du Rhum in 2006 and 2010, and part of the Groupama 3 team that won the 2010 Jules Verne Trophy, could be the first skipper celebrating. He is racing on the 50ft Trimaran Prince de Bretagne.
A Race for all
This Race is a great opportunity to watch world-renowned sailors racing against families and first timers. Although the majority of the fleet will take many hours to complete the Race, the course records stand at 3hrs 53mins 05secs for a monohull boat, set by Mike Slade on ICAP Leopard in 2008, and 3hrs 08mins 29secs for a multihull boat, set by Francis Joyon in 2001.
One of the famous names to look out for on Saturday is Ben Ainslie, triple Olympic Gold medallist, who is setting out with a steely determination to win this year and add to his gold and silverware collection. Ben is being joined on board the Ker 40 Keronimo by ace navigator Mike Broughton and Trimmer Mark Campbell-James. The ex-World Cup Rugby player Will Greenwood has also signed on as crew.
JP54 is the name given to a top-of-the-range fast cruiser-racer designed and skippered by Jean-Pierre Dick, who won the 2010-2011 and 2007-2008 Barcelona World Race as well as wearing the winner’s garland at the end of the Transat Jacques Vabre in 2005.
Jean-Pierre Dick said: “I have always really wanted to take part in this very fine event, which is certainly one of the best English yachting races. I will be discovering the Round the Island Race for the first time and I am really looking forward to taking part in this sailing festival. I got a lot of pleasure out of sailing in the Tour de Belle-Ile last May. So I am starting the cruiser racing exercise all over again, since it is particularly suited to the JP54. She is comfortable and fast. It will be simply an enjoyable moment with a crew of friends. Of course, our goal is to sail as fast as possible while enjoying the wonderful landscapes around the Isle of Wight, particularly the huge limestone cliffs. It’s a magical island!”
Sir Keith Mills will be joined on board the TP52 Team Origin by double Olympic Gold medallist Iain Percy and Olympic Gold medallist Andrew Simpson whilst Sir Robin Knox-Johnston will be aboard a Clipper 68.
Teenage solo sailing stars Jessica Watson and Michael Perham are teaming up to race together for the first time on a Bavaria 37 Cold Play.
Gipsy Moth IV, the historic yacht that was the home of Sir Francis Chichester when he sailed single-handedly around the world in 1966-67, is to be crewed by young sailors from UKSA.
Dame Ellen MacArthur is sailing on one of six Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust boats competing this year with young people in recovery from cancer, leukaemia and other illnesses. The Trust is the official charity of the Race in 2011 and 2012.