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High fliers take to the water in Round the Island race

by Peta Stuart-Hunt 27 May 2010 12:10 BST 19 June 2010

Peta Stuart-Hunt reports on some eye-catching entries with 23 days to go to Race Day, 19th June

The Island Sailing Club has now processed just over 1,470 entries and amongst some of the most recent it is interesting to note that, for one reason or another, a fair few have an association with flying. We’re also starting to see some of the more high profile entries coming in now, along with one or two speed machines. There’s also a brilliant turnout of young sailing talent signing up.

Skipper Graham Tourell will be helming Artemis Ocean Racing, an Imoca 60. Built in 2008 the boat has also competed in the Vendée Globe and 2009 Transat Jacques Vabres. Open 60s are one of the fastest boats in sailing - built in carbon fibre using the latest hi-tech structures, they are designed to be as light as possible for speed’s sake, but strong enough to withstand the worst the seas can throw at them. Let’s hope they don’t have to worry too much about the latter on Race Day, Saturday June 19th!

Team GBR Olympic 49er sailor Ben Rhodes from Exmouth, Devon will be racing for fun on Lisette, a Hunter Medina 20.

Double Olympic Gold medallist Shirley Robertson will be racing on board Team Volvo 1 (the TP52 John Merricks II) and the World number one Laser sailor and 2008 Olympic Gold medallist Paul Goodison, from Sheffield, will be going round on Team Volvo 2 that is a Volvo 60 (V-Project).

The Triple Olympic Gold medallist Ben Ainslie CBE, Paul’s previous mentor, will be racing on J.P. Morgan Asset Management Prince’s Trust (aka Fair Do’s VII) a Ker 46. As Ben reveals, “It's a boat that my Team GBR Olympic Manager Stephen 'Sparky' Park often sails but he’s not competing this year. The other crew members will be young ambassadors from the Prince’s Trust. I am an Ambassador for the Trust so I’m really looking forward to sailing for it.”

Two Extreme 40s have signed up and there may be more to come. Firstly, the Race is delighted to welcome back Mike Golding and Ecover and there’s also an Extreme 40 entered as Team Metherell. Mike Golding has consistently been at the forefront of the professional IMOCA Open 60 class and has achieved his various successes to great acclaim. His crew will include the Team GBR former Tornado pairing of Will Howden and Leigh McMillan.

Frequent fliers

Leading some frequent fliers down the Solent runway is Barbara Harmer, the world’s first and only female Concorde pilot who, since the demise of that extraordinary head-turning aircraft, has turned her hand to a combination of horticulture and sailing. Her yacht, Archambault, an Archambault A35, is co-owned by her partner Andrew Hewett who used to work in New Scotland Yard’s Specialist Operations Branch.

Jon Pentreath, a helicopter pilot from Halstock in Dorset, is racing his 1976 family cruiser, a Nicholson 39 called Plover. John leads the Commando Helicopter Force based at RNAS Yeovilton and will be joined by two other heli pilots. On board EMYS II the Williams family is being joined by flying enthusiast Nigel Taylor- Schofield who is a member of the Territorial Army.

Meanwhile, aeroplane designer Chris Burleigh from Wiltshire, has had a long career developing prototype and experimental aircraft both in the UK and USA. He will be racing his Beneteau Yogi with friends and family and looking to improve on last year’s overall 89th position.

Callisto of Lepe will be racing to raise funds for the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance Service. Two of the crew won their places on board this Sagitta 35 by bidding £1100 at a charity auction.

Rounding off the flight-related entries is the aptly named X-Yacht Exocet. After being bought in 2009 in a slightly neglected state, a full refurbishment was carried out and the team led by Alan Draper from landlocked Ripley, enjoyed huge success with her in the 2009 Fastnet Race.

New sailing talent

Amongst the fleet of 17 SB3s entered so far are three boats racing with a selection of Volvo Youth Squad sailors on board as part of their training for the 2010 Volvo ISAF Youth World Championships taking place in Istanbul in July.

Mike Wood, Sam Batten, Sophie McKeeman make up the crew on board SB3 Volvo RYA Youth Team 1 along with their coach Duncan Truswell, the RYA’s Youth Racing Manager. Joanna Freeman, Cameron Douglas, Hugh Brayshaw make up Team 2 with Coach Ben Oakley who is on the RYA selection panel for the Youth Squad. Henry Lloyd-Williams, Sam Sills and Hannah Mitchell are crewing in Team 3 alongside Roy McCubbin, the RYA’s Double-handed Pathway Manager.

Last year’s Raymarine Round the Island Young Sailor Trophy winner on his First 21.7 ‘Pocket Rocket’, was Matt Ponsford from Chichester, who is now 17. He’s back this year racing on his new Dufour 325 Grand’ Large named Inspiration. She was only launched in April in Ipswich and Matt has recently sailed her to her home berth in Chichester.

X-Yacht Exhilarance from Hamble will be skippered by Pip Lucas who has completed 15 Round the Island Races. Pip will be joined by pupils from the lower sixth and fourth forms at Churcher’s College in Petersfield, none of whom have any previous race experience. They have been enjoying a few days’ training in the Solent and according to Sarah Kennedy, school spokesperson, “the students are really enjoying it but I find it hilarious that they fall asleep in the minibus on the way back to school.”

Making your race count

The Island Sailing Club and J.P. Morgan Asset Management are pleased to see that so many competitors are making their race count for charity with dozens of different charities, as well as the preferred four, being supported by competitors.

J.P. Morgan Asset Management set up the Charity Challenge, basically a ‘race within a race’, to help promote the Ellen MacArthur Trust, Macmillan Cancer Support, Prostate UK and Breast Cancer Care and to encourage other competitors to race for charity.

SailTime has kindly donated each charity a boat to enable the charity to try and win this year’s coveted Charity Challenge.

The yachts have now all entered, with their skippers and one or two well-known names being announced as follows:

SailTime Challenge Ellen MacArthur Trust will be helmed by Richard Pierpoint. Also on board will be relatives of young people who have previously sailed with the Trust, who are now actively raising money and promoting the work of the Trust by competing in the Charity Challenge.

SailTime Challenge Breast Cancer Care is skippered by Pete Woodham-Kay and Sailtime Challenge Macmillan Cancer Support has Nick Gale skippering and the crew includes Iwan Thomas MBE, the finest 400m runner in Britain and now a TV sporting celebrity.

SailTime Challenge Prostate UK has announced its skipper as Dan Hardy and Dan will be joined on board by Mike Perham who is now an Ambassador for Prostate UK. Mike was the youngest sailor, at age 14, to undertake a solo Atlantic crossing, capped only by his massive achievement, aged 17, as the youngest person to sail single-handed around the world.

Niall Ferguson, a former rugby player and skiff sailor has gathered together a group of Midlands-based ex-rugby player mates for this year’s Round the Island Race. They are on RPMI, a Laser SB3 and are fund raising for the Matt Hampson Trust, a charity set up for those who are no longer able to enjoy their sport, their passion, and sometimes their life. Matt made it to the Under 21 England Squad but then suffered an horrific and paralyzing spinal cord injury that put paid to his future as a player.

Also using his race entry to help raise funds for the Ellen MacArthur Trust is Roger Bond with his Beneteau 285 Fraid S’Eau. She replaced ‘Fraid Knot’ (I wish I’d thought up these wonderful names) a few years ago as the crew got older and bigger! Roger says he’s a keen sailor and his day job is being ‘a not so keen’ nuclear scientist. He first sailed in Poole Park boating lake and now the Caribbean and Med are his cruising grounds. The crew members remain firm friends after 80 accumulated years of sailing and racing and even after a MoB incident in last year’s Race.

For more information about making your race count, log on to the Race for Charity section on the website at

…and finally

Other recent entries that have caught my eye with a mere 23 days to go include that of the 1,000th entry, Balela, a Quorning Dragonfly 920 Cruising Trimaran from Helston, Cornwall and Ian Day from New Milton, Hampshire, who has entered Mailys, a Fountaine Pajot Maldives, a bridgedeck catamaran. Ian is a former World Sailing Speed Record Holder and will be with a crew that has competed in the Round the Island Race each year since 1994.

Hecuba, a Beneteau First 47.7 is being sailed by Ralph Denne from Henley on Thames who is in his 80th year; Ken Elman is a first-timer on his Hallberg Rassy Caritas. Ken will be joined by Mike Ratcliffe, the Harbour Master from Fox’s Marina in Ipswich.

We extend a warm and hopefully dry welcome back to Paolo and Paola Dassi from Rome who are competing in their second Round the Island Race on Testudo III. It wasn’t so much that they are from Rome that leapt off the entry form; more the way they summed up their experience last year in what they describe as ‘an amazing day in the water‘!

Last but not least in this selection is the amusingly named Jynnan Tonnyx, a J/109 owned and skippered by Owain Franks. He is Commodore, Queen Mary Sailing Club, Chairman of the RYA Sport Development Committee and an RYA Council Member. Owain is racing with a family crew and it is the first race for all on board bar the skipper and helm. That’ll be G&T’s all round, then.

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