Saturday, July 1, 2017

Round Island Race Preview

Island Sailing Club Round Isle of Wight Race (Cowes, Isle of Wight, England)- The annual 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 has attracted 1,336 boats this year comprising about 14,000 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.

Competitors come from all over the UK, other parts of Europe and as far away as the USA to follow the 50 nautical mile course round the Isle of Wight. On Saturday July 1st, the boats cross the famous Royal Yacht Squadron starting line at Cowes in eleven separate groups, starting every 10 minutes from 0530 until 0710 and heading in a westerly direction towards Yarmouth. The boats pass round the Needles Lighthouse, along the southwest coast of the Island to St. Catherine's Point and then up across Sandown Bay to round the Bembridge Ledge Buoy. The fleet then makes its way either side of No Man's Land Fort and across Osborne Bay to the finish line back at Cowes.

Dave Atkinson, Rear Commodore of the hosts, The Island Sailing Club, provided some thoughts and insights as to why the event enjoys such enormous popularity:

What is it about this race that highlights it as an annual must-do for so many?

"The Round the Island race is one of the iconic sailing events in the annual calendar attracting a broad range of sailing abilities and personalities. There are a large number of prizes and, in addition, there are always groups of friends competing against each other in friendly competition and always a carnival atmosphere but with a serious side to things."

What is the appeal for people who do not usually race?

"It's a chance to sail in company outside of the Solent in friendly competition. The Island Sailing Club has its own handicap system (ISCRS), which is a free system to entrants, which allows those who don't normally race to be rated to take part."

What is the main challenge in organizing such a large event?

Round Island Race"The biggest concern is always the safety of our competitors; everything we do is gauged against the safety factors of the race. Obviously with upwards of 1,500 boats and circa 12,000 competitors on the water it somewhat focuses the mind on the day. It takes a team of nearly 200 volunteers to run the race with a large number on the water so they equally need to be thought of and considered in the mix. Every year we face different challenges but, given the experience of those running the day and the support we have from the authorities, we aim to deliver an enjoyable day for all those taking part.”

One hundred nine J/crews are sailing in 14 classes in IRC handicap, Island Sailing Club rating system, and one-designs (J/70, J/80, J/88).

If the competition for this year’s Warsash Spring Series was any indicator, there is no question the eight J/88s will be in for a huge battle for class supremacy all around the island, with frequent lead changes happening as the tightly-knit grouping passes each of the major points as they “turn left” going counter-clockwise around the island.  The teams include EAT SLEEP J REPEAT (Nick Martin), J-DREAM (David & Kirsty Apthorp), JENGA (Bob Hewson), JONGLEUR (Richard Cooper), JUMUNU FIVE (Alistair Ray), RAJING BULL (Tim Tolcher), SABRIEL JR (Dirk and Dianne Van Beek), and TIGRIS (Gavin Howe).

Given the right weather conditions, it is conceivable a J/70 team can again win the Round Island Race like Simon Ling’s RAF SPITFIRE did some years back.  This year, there are fourteen J/70s on the line hoping to duplicate SPITFIRE’s feat and see how many miles they can hang in “planing mode” round the island!  Top teams include Patrick Liardet’s COSMIC, Doug Struth’s DSP, Edward Eddy’s ADDILYN (an All Under 25 youth crew), Andrew Barraclough’s JENGA 8, and Jack Davies’ YETI (an All Under 25 youth crew and past winner of Cowes Week U25 Trophy).

The eight J/80 teams will enjoy good competition around the track, with a number of leading teams in the hunt like Terence O'Neill’s AQUA-J, Andrew Hurst’s FIDUCIAL (publisher of the famous SEAHORSE magazine in Lymington, Hants), Chris & Cecil Wright’s JUMPIN’ JACK FLASH, Claire Mont├ęcot’s French team on STARTIJENN, and Mark Greenaway’s PELOTON LTD.

In IRC 1A Division is the J/120 SUNSET (Andras Bakody); the J/122E TIGH SOLIUS III (Iain Mackinnon); five J/111s that include JITTERBUG (Cornell Riklin), JOURNEYMAKER II (Louise Makin & Chris Jones), KESTREL (Simon Bamford), McFLY (Tony Mack), JELVIS (Martin Dent); three J/122s that include JAHMALI (Mike & Sarah Wallis), JOLLY JELLYFISH (Steven Stewart), R&W (Andy Theobold); and two J/133s that include GICQUEL ASSOCIES (Ernest Gicquel) and JINGS (David Ballantyne).

In IRC 2A Division is the J/35 KNIGHT BUILD LTD (James Chalmers) and eight J/109s that include top teams like DIAMOND JEM (Robert Stiles), JAM SESSION (Dennis Zuidam from The Netherlands), JIRAFFE (Simon Perry), and JYNNAN TONNYX (Owain Franks).

The enormous IRC 2B class is pretty much populated by all 35-foot J/teams.  There are ten J/105s that include leading crews like FLAWLESS J (Adrian Johnson), JELLY BABY (William Newton), JESTER (David Cowell), JOS OF HAMBLE (Professor Roger Williams, CBE), and REDEYE (Pip & Pete Tyler). Joining them are twenty J/109s that include DESIGNSTAR 2 (Roger Phillips), JAZZY JELLYFISH (Paul Dutton), and RED ARROW (Mark Hollis & Tom Chatterton from the Royal Air Force Red Arrows sailing team).

Sailing in IRC 2C class are two J/92S’s, including CAPTAIN SCARLET (Guy Stansell) and JACKED UP (Ben Fowler).

Most of IRC 2D class is comprised of eleven J/Crews.  The fleet includes the J/110 SHADES OF BLUE (Ed Holton); the J/92S WIZARD (John Greenaway); four J/92’s that include HAPPY JAYS (Mike Kerridge), JABBERWOCK (Ralph Mason), NIGHTJAR (R. Seale, O. Overstall, J. Banks, J. Banks), VAGABOND (Mark Waddington); and five J/97s that include BLACKJACK II (Andy Howe), HIGH JINKS (Mike Sellers / Chris Miles), JAYWALKER (Bob & Jon Baker), JET (James & John Owen), and JUMBLESAIL 2 (R & D & R Hunt).

The IRC 3A class has six J/teams on the starting line.  This class has the pretty green J/32 DOMAINE (Chris Burbidge), the pretty J/97E ROCK LOBSTER (Nick Angel), the J/95 JUST IS (Graham Chase), and three more J/92’s that include DODJER (Brian Malone), J’RONIMO (Libby Greenhalgh & family), and JACKDAW (Rob Salter).

The lone J/crew in IRC 3C class is J/30 COLLEEN with skipper Allan G. Hill along with a crew of three youngsters and three older salts!

Besides the IRC handicap classes, there is the local “beer can racing rule” popularized by Island Sailing Club- the ISC Rating System- a.k.a. ISCRS.  There is enormous participation in these classes since it is meant to be simple and easy to use, a bit like America’s PHRF system but with a touch more simplicity.  Sailing in the ISCRS 4B class is the J/109 SQUIB (Ken Raby) and the pretty navy blue J/124 ECLIPSE (Robert Bishop).

In ISCRS 4D class is the world-famous black-hulled J/36 JAZZ, once owned by designer Rodney Johnstone and now having sailed well-over 100,000+ nm by her current owner Norm Curnow! Still going strong since 1983! Sailing with Norm is Tim Stoneman.

The ISCRS 5B class has Andrew Norton’s pretty blue J/100 TIDERACE and Simon Clark’s J/30 JEMINI.

Still going strong after celebrating 40 years plying the world’s seven seas and thousands of lakes are the J/24s!  This year, we find three sailing in ISCRS 6C class, including Roger Ayres’ J-RIDER, Quinton Hall’s JABULANI (sailing with “good friends and my loving wife”), and George Kennedy’s NORTHSHORE HOMES (an All Under 21 crew!).  For more Round The Island Race sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.