Saturday, June 21, 2014

Round Island Race Preview

Round island race (Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)- Starting at dawn, there may be few spectacles more breathtaking than to see the hundreds of boats take off in the morning twilight on the Round Island Race towards the candy-cane striped tower that stands atop the infamous Needles at the western end of the Isle of Wight.  The massive fleet starts Saturday, June 21st at 0630 hrs on the famous Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes; the boats then race “westabout” (counter-clockwise), to The Needles, round St Catherine's Point and Bembridge Ledge buoy, and back into the Solent to the finish line at Cowes.

Isle of Wight round island race mapThe annual J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, organized by the Island Sailing Club, is a one-day yacht race around the Isle of Wight, an island situated off the south coast of England. The race regularly attracts around 16,000 sailors, making it one of the largest yacht races in the world and the fourth largest participation sporting event in the UK after the London Marathon and the Great North and South Runs.

The Race, enjoying its 10th year of title sponsorship from JP Morgan Asset Management, started in 1931 with 25 boats. The Race continues to retain a special place in sailors’ hearts and its popularity continues to increase as organizers point to a 7% growth in the number of ‘first timers’ signing up to experience one of the most iconic yacht races in the world.

Some weather gurus predict good sailing conditions.  On Friday and Saturday, it will be mainly sunny with warm temperatures. With the high pressure and clear nights there will be some early morning mist patches drifting over the Solent from the mainland, but the sunshine will soon burn this off giving good visibility through the rest of the day.  For the Saturday morning start, experts predict a light NNW-NNE at first, 5-10 knots, becoming a light sea breeze in the afternoon; tending to be SW 8-13 in the western and central Solent, and SE 5-10 in the eastern.

J/109 sailing Round Island race in EnglandAn enormous armada of 112 J/Teams is launching their collective efforts on the 65+ trophies that are given out at the awards ceremony.  There are 88 J’s sailing in IRC & Sportsboat classes, 8 in Island Sailing Club rating system and 16 J/80s racing as a class.  In the primary offshore IRC keelboat classes, ranging from IRC 0 to IRC 3 divisions, J/Boats represents by far the biggest brand in the 367 boat grouping, with 88 teams representing 24.0% of the total!  A rather fantastic turnout.  In fact, the single largest class of boats in the entire fleet are the 31 J/109s participating in IRC 2 division.

Starting with IRC 0 Division, the 52 entries will be the first to start their adventure around the island at 0630 hrs on Saturday.  Included in that fleet are two J/133’s- JINGS (David Ballantyne) and JUMP (Ian Dewhirst).  Joining them are two J/111’s- JOURNEYMAKER (Chris Jones & Louise Makin) and ICARUS (Chris Body).

Following them in IRC 1A class with 27 entries are three more J/111’s- J-LANCE 9 from France (Didier Le Moal), JITTERBURG (Cornel Riklin) and MUNKENBECK (Alfred Munkenbeck).  A formidable quartet of J/122’s will be sparring with this trio, including JACOBS LADDER (William Avery), JOLLY JELLYFISH (Ben Few Brown), JOLOU (Sergey Senchenko) and MINT JULEP (David Cule).  If that weren’t enough competition, two J/133s could lead the class around, including APOLLO 7 (Nigel Passmore) and L’EAU DE LA (Nils Boyer).

The lone J in IRC 1C class is the J/120 ASSARAIN III sailed by experienced offshore veteran Chris Masterson.

J/109 in Round Island RaceThe IRC 2 Division and sub-classes are going to have a very challenging time contending with the 31 J/109s and 10 J/105s engulfing the race track!  Starting with the IRC 2A with 35 entries, 12 of them are J/109’s including BLUE JAY (Alan Bennett), BONFIRE 4 (Chris Brooks), DESIGNSTAR 2 (Roger Phillips), JAZZY JELLYFISH (Michelle Butler), JIGSAW (Chris Andrews of Zig Zag Sailing), JINKS (Chris Brooks), JOUSTER (Adam Wright), JUMUNU (Julian Sutherland), JYNNAN TONNYX (Owain Franks and Jean Lockett), RED ARROW (sailed by Marcus Wilson and the Royal Air Force Sailing Team), TIGH SOLIUS II (Iain Mackinnon) and WHITE KNIGHT 7 (Colonel John Ogden).  Hoping that it will be a light-air race will be the powerful J/39 XTREME (sailed by Stephen Best, Colin Foxley & Spencer Paul).

Joining them at the same starting time are the other nineteen J/109s sailing in the IRC 2B class with 37 entries.  Those teams include ALICE OF HAMBLE (Alastair Speare-Cole), BOTEZ COAST IV (Yves Dervieux from France), JAMBO (Andy Barnes), HIGH TENSION (Chris Brooks), INSPARA (Stuart Wood), J’TAIME (Christopher Palmer), JAGERBOMB (Paul Griffiths), JARHEAD (Greg Nasmyth), JELENKO (Simon Forbes & Trevor Sainty), JIBE (Robin Taunt), JOLENE II (Freddie Cardew-Smith), JOLLY JACK TAR (Adrian Wheal and the Royal Navy Sailing Team), JUKE BOX (Chris Copeland), JUMBUCK (John & Sue Allison), JUMPING JELLYFISH (David Richards), JYBE TALKIN (Chris & Helen Burleigh), ME JULIE (Michelle Butler), OFFBEAT (David Mcleman) and OH SIR JASPER (Simon Proctor).  Doing their level best to overcome this group are seven J/105’s, including JACANA (Paul Wood & Jeremy Waitt), JACKPOT (Vernon Bradley), JAK (Martyn Kemp), JELLY BABY (William Newton), JIN & TONIC (Andrew Roberts), JOS OF HAMBLE (Roger Williams) and MOSTLY HARMLESS (Tom Hayhoe & Natalie Jobling).  If that weren’t enough 35 foot J’s in one class, toss in a very tough championship winning team from Ireland sailing their J/35 BENGAL MAGIC with James Chalmers steering!

In the IRC 2C fleet of 36 entries are three J/105s including FLAWLESS J (James Heald), KING LOUIE (Fiona & Malcolm Thorpe) and NEILSON REDEYE (led by Pip & Pete Tyler, owners of Neilson Active Holidays agency).  Joining them will be the J/100 NORA sailed by team of Desmarest & Ratzel from France.

J/92 sailing Round Island Race off EnglandThe IRC 2D Class of 47 entries has a rogue’s gallery of hot J/97 teams, many with championship winning crews aboard.  The eight J/97s include BLACKJACK II (Andy Howe & Annie Kelly), ETB TYRES JUST LIKE THAT (Chaz Ivill), INDULJENCE (Nick & Adam Munday), JACKAROO (Matthew & Rob Orr), JASLAN (Brett Lewis & H Hofmann), JEOPARDY 2 (Nick Barlow- who’s sailing with a group of ladies that won the charity auction to sail the boat in the race— they claim they will race in “fancy dress”!), JET (James & John Owen), and TYREFIX JL (Dave Cobden).  Balancing the J/97s and keeping a sharp reign on them will be the J/110 SHADES OF BLUE (Ed Holton), the J/92 WIZARD (John Greenaway) and the J/95 JUST IS (Graham Chase).

The lone J’s in IRC 3 Division are the J/32 DOMAINE skippered by Chris Burbidge and the J/30 COLLEEN helmed by Allan Hill (in fact, a New England boat shipped over to England).

In addition to the IRC class, the Island Sailing Club Rating System offers an alternative for those pre-disposed to a simpler rule.  As a result, the ISCRS classes are some of the largest in the race.  Taking part in ISCRS 4B class is the J/124 ECLIPSE sailed by Robert Bishop and family and the J/109 SARDONYX IX led by William Edwards.  In ISCRS 4D class, we find the J/92s HULLABALOO sailed by Felix Marks and in ISCRS 5A class is Dick Young’s J/100 CHARLOTTE.  In fact, there are two more J/100’s sailing in the race in ISCRS 5B- Ole Bettum’s ALAMARA B II and Julia James’s THUNDER SQUALL.  Finally, in ISCRS 6C class are two of the “classic” J/24s, including Roger Ayres’s J-RIDER and JUJU (sailed by Quinton Hall, a new boat and first time around island with friends and family in a J/24!).

J/80 sailing Round Island race past Needles lighthouseJ/80S have sixteen entries in a one-design class start, including many of the top teams like AQUA-J (Patrick Liardet), BOYSTEROUS (Dillon Plantinga), DSP (Douglas Struth), EXETER-SOLAR.COM (Nigel Skudder with a crack team of 470 class sailors with National, European and World Champion credentials!), J-WIFE (Simon Watson), JAMMY (Charlie Bonfield), JASMINE (Douglas Neville-Jones), JUMBLESAIL (Robert Hunt), MOJO (Jim White), ROCK & ROLL (Dr Gillian Ross), SEAFIRE (Jeffrey Orford), SURF & TURF (Geoffrey Payne), UKSA 1 (Ash Holmes), UKSA 2 (Jonny Michael), UKSA 3 (Nick Spence & Jack Mitchell), WILD WALLY (the trio of Robert Walters, David Walters & James O’Neill).

J/70 Spitfire sailing Round Island race off cowes, englandFinally, the Sportsboat Class has enlarged considerably with 24 entries.  The smallest J in the crowd is the J/22 MARETA skippered by Armel Desbois.  They will have to contend with a flock of 7 J/70’s that includes last year’s class winner and overall winner of the Sir Edward Heath Trophy- TEAM RAF SPITFIRE POWERED BY SLAM skippered by Wing Commander Simon Ling.  Other J/70’s aim to be contenders as well, including BABY J (Charlie Esse), J’NICKIT (Tim Howard), JENGA 8 (Andrew Barraclough), PURE STUDENT LIVING (Jack & Freddie Davies), TJIG IV (Johnny Dryburgh & Robert Pilcher) and WILSON COVERS (Ian Wilson).  While sailing very standard boats, the six Royal Yacht Squadron J/80s could easily have a go at this crowd, one can never count out some smart sailing this group, that includes ROYAL 1 (Richard Acland), ROYAL 2 (Christopher Hill), ROYAL 3 (Red Johnson), ROYAL 4 (James Baxter sailing with two crew members, Gareth Edwards and Douglas Peniston, that are ex-Fireball National Champion crews), ROYAL 5 (Malcolm Glaister) and ROYAL 6 (Duncan Byatt).  Sailing photo credits- Tim Wright-
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