Organisers have noticed an increased number of first timers registering for the big race in June

A rocketing number of first timers are signing up for this year’s J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race.

More than 600 boats have so far registered to take part in the annual 50 nautical mile sprint around the Isle of Wight, which this year is scheduled for Saturday 21 June.

Since entries opened on January 3, organisers have noticed a significant number of first-time competitors signing up, compared to previous years.

American Chris Palmer has entered J Taime, his 35ft J/109 (GBR6709R). Although Chris, who lives in London, has taken part a few times on other boats, this will be his family’s first Round the Island Race experience in celebration of his 50th birthday.
 
Chris is hoping that Maddy, aged 13, will be able to steer some sections when the boat is not under too much load. Chris’s son, Christopher ‘Chip’ Palmer, will be aged nine on race day. Big sister Isabella, 15, mum Gaby and friends will also be on board.
 
The first IRC entry was Geoff Gritton’s Quarter Tonner Panic (GBR7299), a first timer this year. Geoff, from Brightlingsea in Essex, has sailed across the Atlantic twice and sailed dinghies and SB20s.
 
He says: ‘We are a bunch of Essex men just really enjoying our sailing and the banter both on and off the boat.

‘Just because we laugh a lot, that doesn’t mean we aren’t serious about our racing. We win most races we enter on the East Coast but we love coming to the sailing mecca that is Cowes to learn how to become even better.’

Three generations will be racing on a J/80 called J-Wife (GBR751). First

timer Simon Watson, aged 46, from Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire has

registered to take on the challenge with his father Roger, aged 78, and

15-year-old son Angus.

A first time overseas entry is M Fabrice Sobczak from Mons in Belgium (FRA37835) with a Beneteau First 35. Fabrice will be joined for the race by friends from the Belgium Rugby Club of Mons (former players and supporters) who enjoy sailing together.
 
Fundraising for the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust

Ocean Odysea (GBR3490L) is a Bavaria 45 entered by Duncan Smith, RYA, YM Instructor and Principal of Brighton’s Waterfront Sailing Academy is the first entry to declare that they are fundraising for the official race charity, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust (EMCT).

The boat will be crewed by a group of students undergoing RYA training. Duncan’s son Darran, is skippering Med Odysea (GBR3491L), a Bavaria 39 and is also fund-raising for the EMCT.
 
In the lead up to and during the race weekend, everyone can help raise funds for the EMCT by using the hashtag #raceforall on Twitter. Event title sponsor J.P. Morgan will donate £1 per tweet to the charity. rtir.me/tweetometer

Last year’s race, organised by Island Sailing Club, attracted 1,459 boat entries, including Olympic and America’s Cup star Sir Ben Ainslie, whose all-British crew aboard the AC45 J.P. Morgan BAR trounced

the event’s multihull record, held for 12 years

by Francis Joyon, by 16 minutes.

The time to beat on 21 June 2014 is 2.52.15.


For more information visit www.roundtheisland.org.uk

Pictures: Round the Island Race action. Credits: Patrick Eden 2013; SailingScenes.co.uk; and J.P. Morgan Asset Management.