The starting line-up at this year's JPMorgan Asset Management RTIR will not disappoint

Triple Olympic gold medallist and Team Origin skipper Ben Ainslie takes the helm of the Extreme 40 catamaran, JPMorgan Asset Management/Team Origin this Saturday at the start of the Round the Island race.

With Ben will be Mike Sanderson (Team Origin Team Director and Volvo Ocean Race winning skipper) calling the tactics. George Skudos, Team Origin mastman, will be on pit whilst Matt Cornwell takes up his usual expert role as bowman.

Also competing in an X40 is New Zealander Russell Coutts – the three time America’s Cup winner – who will make his first appearance in the Round the Island Race this weekend.

Ben explained: “I’m really looking forward to racing around the Island this year in an Extreme 40 – as the name suggests it should be a wild ride.

The multihull start is definitely going to be interesting, lining up against the likes of Francis Joyon on Idec and of course the four other Extreme 40s who all seem to have some pretty hot talent on them! I have a great team onboard so we are hoping for some good winds and a fast finish time.”

Other Extreme 40 entrants include two Omani X40s – Oman Sail Renaissance is currently lying third in the iShares Cup skippered by Loick Peyron. The crew for the Round the Island Race includes British Tornado champions Andrew Walsh (skipper and helm), Ed Barney, Greg Homann – 18ft skiff champion and Sydney-Hobart winner – with Gordon Whitley and Mubarak, both from Oman.

Plus there will the X40 TornadoSport from Holland with skipper Herbert Derckson, three times Formula 18 catamaran World Champion, and Team Aqua’s Chris Bake.

The state-of-the-art Extreme 40s first appeared in the race in 2006 when Holmatro took podium place. The following year Ellen MacArthur won the class in a time of 4 hours 6 minutes 3 seconds. Team Origin led the entire fleet back in 2008, in a better time of 3 hours 23 minutes 50 seconds, but still some 15 minutes outside the multihull race record set by Francis Joyon in 2001.

The JPMorgan Asset Management Round the Island Race takes place on Saturday 20 June. Entries closed at noon on Saturday 13 June and this year’s total of 1,779 is the fourth highest in the 78-year history of the race.