Two yachting greats team up for the JPMorgan Asset Management Round the Island Race 21/4/08

This year Sir Robin Knox-Johnston will skipper the 12 metre former America’s Cup yacht Sceptre in the JPMorgan Asset Management Round the Island Race. No stranger to the event, Sir Robin has competed previously in Suhaili, the 32 foot ketch he built himself and in which he became the first solo, non-stop round the world sailor in 1969. Last year he opted to race in a state-of-the-art Open 60.

Sceptre was built in 1958 to mount the first challenge for the America’s Cup after the war. Due to the general austerity of the time, the rules were changed to allow boats in the International 12 Metre Class to compete. There was little opportunity to tune Sceptre for the event and she suffered from inferior sail technology at the time. Meeting the USA defender Columbia, she was well beaten.

Returning to the UK, Sceptre’s mast was moved aft to improve her balance and this transformed her performance. In the early 1960s, she was the boat to beat, sometimes with HRH The Duke of Edinburgh at the helm. Sceptre is now owned by Sceptre Preservation LLP, whose key objective is to safeguard the boat’s place in yachting history. In this, her Golden Jubilee Year, Sceptre will be racing in the Classic Racing Yachts class.

In the 1930s the America’s Cup was the domain of the huge J Class boats. Ten were completed of which only three now remain. Velsheda (see photo), although not built as an AC contender, competed in many events in the 1930s, including taking the King’s Cup at Cowes. She has participated in the Round the Island Race on several occasions. – joining the CHS class in 1989 and 1990 and transferring to the Classic Racing Yachts class when it was formed in 1991.

She then reappeared in 2001, the America’s Cup Jubilee Year, after an extensive refit. The Island Sailing Club is delighted to welcome her back to the event this year when she will join the IRC class.

Up to 1,800 boats are expected out on the water for this year’s JPMorgan Asset Management Round the Island Race. The standard entry fee closes on 7 June and late entries on 21 June 2008.