Round the Island Race: What will make 2014 special?
Marine leisure industry expert Peta Stuart-Hunt explains why the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race will deliver the ultimate buzz for sailors and racing fans, when it lights up the Isle of Wight on June 21st.
The annual J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, organised by the Island Sailing Club, is a one-day yacht race around the Isle of Wight. The Race regularly attracts over 1,700 boats and around 16,000 sailors, making it the largest yacht race of its kind in the world and certainly one of the largest participation sporting events in the UK.
Competitors come from all over Great Britain, from other parts of Europe and from as far away as Australia and the USA to race the 50 nautical mile course around the Isle of Wight. Starting on the famous Royal Yacht Squadron 'line' in Cowes, the fleet races westabout, to The Needles, round St Catherine's Point and Bembridge Ledge buoy, and back into the Solent to the finish line at Cowes.
The Race provides a unique opportunity to watch world-renowned sailors racing against families and first timers. For those not competing but wanting to join in the excitement, the Island and the South coast have many great vantage points to watch the Race unfold, such as the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth, Hurst Castle, and The Needles.
What can we expect for 2014?
This year, the organisers are delighted to welcome the distinguished BBC broadcaster and presenter David Dimbleby to fire the first gun - it's an early start at 06:30 - and then he will compete with his son on board a Volvo-chartered Farr 45. Equally exciting is that Sir Ben Ainslie, who has just been announced as co-helm of the 100ft Leopard on June 21st, has accepted an invitation to present the prizes at the ISC's Race Prizegiving event at 12 noon on Sunday 22nd June - a fabulous and rare opportunity to shake his hand.
Why was last year such a standout year for the RTIR?
Last year's Race will almost certainly be regarded as one of the best ever held since it was first run with 25 entries in 1931. The weather was fabulous, the wind was just windy enough to produce exhilarating and competitive racing, there was a brilliant buzz throughout Cowes and in the Race Village in Cowes Yacht Haven.
The memorable moments were numerous and more people than ever followed the 'as live' Race progress on the website, through the tracking and the popular Blog. The excitement was palpable right from the early morning gun, as the two Race records - fastest rounding in a multihull (the course record) and fastest rounding in a monohull, were being fought for as the rest of the UK was just waking up.
What are the race records to beat?
The current monohull race record set by Mike Slade on the 100ft ICAP Leopard on 1st June 2013 stands at 3.43.50. This is 9 minutes and 45 seconds inside ICAP Leopard's own race record set back in 2008.
The multihull race record set on 1st June 2013 by Sir Ben Ainslie on JP Morgan BAR, his AC45, stands at 2.52.15 beating by an impressive 16 minutes the previous multihull race record set by Francis Joyon in 2001.
It's all there for the taking again this year - the blogging, the tracking, the buzz, the colour, the on-water stories and the amazing atmosphere.
The 2014 Race strapline is 'A Race for All,' and simply by tweeting using the hashtag #raceforall, J.P. Morgan will donate £1 to the Official Race Charity, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, to a total of £4,000.
+ The RYS Race starts watching from Cowes Parade and the Green - hundreds of boats off the RYS 'line' from 0630 - 0745hrs
+ Fabulous vantage points around the Island and along the mainland coast - quickest boats can finish back in Cowes from around 0930 and thereafter throughout the day
+ Famous sailors and celebrities on the water and coming ashore
+ The Race Village in Cowes Yacht Haven and a host of street entertainment throughout the town to cater for all ages
+ The Live Race Blog and Tracking at http://www.roundtheisland.org.uk
Words by Peta Stuart Hunt
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