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'Leopard' approaching the needles in the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race
'Eleonora' at the needles in the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race
Line honours to to the French
Stop press 11.30: Four incidents have been reported by the race management team at the Island Sailing Club. There have been two head injuries and one spinal injury. Families have been informed and the Island Sailing Club will provide updates as further information becomes available. A small multihull capsized North of Hamstead Ledge on the North-West of the Island. All crew are safely onshore in Yarmouth.
And they're off...weather being the dominant factor
The 81st J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race set off from the Royal Yacht Squadron line, started by Olympic 470 sailor Hannah Mills, with over 1,600 boats heading in a westerly direction round the Isle of Wight.
The wind conditions are as forecast with most of the fleets starting in a moderate south-westerly breeze. However, the forecast is for the wind to increase, with the predicted conditions having already put paid to racing for some of the smaller classes including sportsboats, J80s, 707s, SB20s (formerly known as SB3s) and the small MOCRA multihull fleet (LOA less than 9.15m).
There was also a safety call made for all competitors to wear lifejackets.
The likes of Mike Slade's 100ft Farr-designed superyacht – ICAP Leopard – revelled in the conditions and soon slotted in to her natural position at the head of the fleet. She led the fleet round the Needles but was soon challenged by last year's line honours winner, Lionel Lemonchois and team on the Multi 50 Prince de Bretagne. However, first across the line at 10.19.57, just over one minute outside the overall record, finishing in 3hrs.09mins and 57secs, was former Mini Transat winner Yves Le Blevec on the Multi 50 trimaran – Actual.
Elsewhere the fleet are battling the strong winds round the south of the island and as the day progresses there are a number of retirements. However, it is great to see the likes of Dame Ellen MacArthur on the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust's boat Dark Star, which is a 90ft sloop loaned to the Trust for the day. She is currently the leading yacht in the Trust's four-boat fleet.
Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie at the helm of the 162ft schooner, Eleonora, is now round St Catherine's Point and enjoying a final blast home to the finish.
Race Partners 2012: Britannia Events, Haven Knox-Johnston, Henri Lloyd, Nautica Watches, Old Pulteney Whisky, Raymarine, Red Funnel, Small Luxury Hotels of the World & Volvo Car UK.
You can follow the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race online via the race blog and GPS tracking at www.roundtheisland.org.uk. Please also feel free to tweet using - #RTIR - throughout Race Day!