Sir Ben Ainslie's team beat 12-year record and pay tribute to Olympian Andrew Simpson
The 2013 Round the Island Race proved to be a morning to remember last Saturday with two records broken before 9am.
Both the outright race record and the monohull record fell at the 82nd edition of the historic event.
A fleet of almost 1,500 boats raced from Cowes on the Isle of Wight around the island and back to Cowes in breezy and sunny conditions.
The race, dubbed a ‘race for all’, attracted first timers, families, amateurs and professionals competing at the highest level.
Out of the 1,459 entries to the J.P. Morgan Asset Management sponsored race, organised by the Island Sailing Club, a total of 1,323 finished while 52 boats retired and six started prematurely or were disqualified.
Great Britain’s most successful Olympic sailor, Sir Ben Ainslie and his all-British crew aboard J.P. Morgan BAR, trounced the existing Round the Island Race multihull record, held for 12 years, by an impressive 16 minutes.
Round the Island 2013 took place the day after Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson’s funeral.
Ainslie said that after the tragic death of his friend in an America’s Cup training accident last month in San Francisco, he ‘spent a long time weighing up whether or not to race in our BAR AC45.’
In his Telegraph column he revealed: ‘Initially I was against it. But after a bit of time and after speaking with the rest of the guys on the team, we decided we should go ahead. I spoke to a few people and they all said Bart would have wanted us to get on with it.
‘I am so glad we did. We wore our normal crew gear but we had black armbands and a ribbon with Bart’s name on our backs. The sun shone, the wind got up and we set a course record, lapping the Isle of Wight in under three hours with a group of sailors who were all close to Bart. It felt really special.’
In the monohull fleet the biggest boat in the IRC classes, Mike Slade’s 100ft ICAP Leopard crossed the finish line 40 minutes after Ainslie, shaving almost 10 minutes off the monohull race record he had set back in 2008.
Just 10 minutes later Phil Cotton’s diminutive Seacart 30 trimaran, Buzz, crossed the finish line. Cotton won the Grand Prix Multihull class, half an hour ahead of Ainslie on corrected time, showing just how successful amateur sailors can be in this race.
Sir Keith Mills’ TP52 5 West finished at 0935, but his team had an agonising wait until almost 4pm before he could be sure of securing overall victory in the IRC division.
Mills said: ‘It was a great race, although I didn’t expect to win as it’s usually a small boat like a Folkboat or Contessa 26 that gets it in the end.’
He added: ‘It was great for the team on board today.
‘They really enjoyed it and it was more special because most of us were at Bart’s funeral yesterday – we all thought it would be a fitting tribute to him if we had a good race today.’
The 2013 Round the Island race raised £3,000 for its chosen charity, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.
Race Safety Officer Dave Atkinson, working on behalf of the Island Sailing Club reported a positive safety record after a long day that started at 2.45am and finished at 11.50pm.
He said: ‘We had the least number of incidents to deal with for a very long time and nothing major occurred out on the water.
‘The entire race team, that numbers around 170 people on the day and ranged from spotters to results teams, cannot be praised highly enough.’
On Sunday, the race prizegiving was held at the Island Sailing Club where the Commodore Rod Nicholls was joined on stage by Corrie McQueen from J.P. Morgan Asset Management and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston to hand out the gold and silverware to the deserving prizewinners.
The most coveted prize, the Gold Roman Bowl and JPMAM Salver for First Overall IRC went to 5 West, the TP52 owned and helmed by Sir Keith Mills and Robert Greenhalgh.
The Silver Roman Bowl and JPMAM Salver for Second Overall IRC went to Pace and Johnny Vincent. The Observer Trophy and JPMAM Trophy for First Monohull to finish went to Mike Slade and ICAP Leopard.
Next year, the race will be held on Saturday 21 June.
For a full list of results visit rtir.me/results
RNLI attend six RTI incidents
Yarmouth’s RNLI lifeboat spent seven hours at sea on prolonged standby for the J.P.Morgan Round the Island Race and assisted six incidents.
At 7.20am, the volunteer crew assisted in a man overboard incident off the Needles. The crew member of a Sunsail yacht was quickly picked up by the Lymington inshore lifeboat and transferred to the bigger Yarmouth lifeboat where specialist first aid was available.
Once the casualty had recovered sufficiently, he was tranferred to the Freshwater Independent Lifeboat and taken
Shortly afterwards it was reported that a yacht was aground on Atherfield Ledge. The lifeboat attended and deployed
their small inflatable ‘Y’ boat to lay out a kedge anchor. The yacht was later refloated.
The Yarmouth lifeboat also assisted a non competitor. A Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) fouled a lobster pot off St. Catherine’s Point and was unable to manoeuvre and was therefore a danger to other the competitors. The lifeboat freed
the stern gear and the RIB was towed clear.
The lifeboat assisted in four other incidents before returning to Yarmouth at 1.45pm.
Pic 1: JP Morgan BAR in action. Credit: Paul Wyeth
Pic 2: Mike Slade’s 100ft ICAP Leopard. Credit: Paul Wyeth
Pic 3: ESPRESSO MARTINI, SJAMBOK, IRC Division 0. Credit: Patrick Eden
Pic 4: The crew from 5 West, the 2013 winners of the Gold Roman Bowl. Jonathan Taylor, Alex Mills, Robert Greenhalgh are flanked by left, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and on the right, Corrie McQueen from J.P. Morgan Asset Management. Credit: Patrick Eden