Round the Island Race 2011 takes place on Saturday 25th June. The 80th Anniversary Race starts and finishes in Cowes, Isle of Wight.
The lovely Ocean Pearl racing in 2009
Peta Stuart-Hunt shares a moment with some Old Gaffers and some new racing blood:
It is really inspiring to read about those dedicated people who pledge the resources - commitment to the cause, knowledge and time being the most valuable assets - required to restore an old boat to its former glory. I’ve taken a closer look at a couple of examples in this selection of some more recent entries to this year's 80th Anniversary J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race taking place on 25th June.
David Armstrong is a keen sailor and boat restorer and has been a member of the Royal Yorkshire YC for over 50 years and is also a past Club Commodore. His entry into this year's Race is his own lovingly restored Contessa 26, Contessina, purchased in a dilapidated state and refurbished by ploughing a lot of time and money into the rebuild. In 2009 he had much to celebrate as the Winner of the JP Morgan Asset Management Family Trophy, the first Contessa 26 and he was 10th overall in his ISC Division. David is being joined on board this year by another Contessa 26 owner, Jeffery Preece, together with Fred Ingham, described by David as a 'professional amateur sailor', and another chap, simply referred to by David as 'Richard who is coming with us in case it gets windy!'
I hope they all keep an eye out for another Yorkshireman, Jim Dick from North Ferriby in East Yorkshire, who has entered a J97 named Jackaroo, for his first ever Round the Island Race.
Melody Blue is a 1974 Westerly Berwick described by her owner and skipper Clive Rankin from Portsmouth, as a 'great old boat that's been around the world and just keeps going.' We certainly hope she does keep going, right around the Island on Race Day. Clive has only recently passed his Yachtmaster exam in February. He is a Falklands veteran and former Naval helicopter air crewman. Clive also refers on his entry form to an interesting young crew member named Jason Rankin who has just completed a wooden boatbuilding apprenticeship, has sailed the Southern Ocean in Lively Lady (Sir Alec Rose's boat that was restored and then undertook the Raymarine Lively Lady Project Around the World 2006-2008). Jason is now working on restoring the Boleh, a cross between an Arab Dow and a Chinese Junk, built in Singapore at the end of World War II and now being restored in Eastney, Hampshire. Boleh project website.
Now then, time to take a deep breath! When this next entry worked its way to the top of my selections pile, I actually scribbled 'OMG!' on the Media Form, for these entry details alone are a tour de force.
Anthony Wheaton from London has entered his 1903 built Gaff Cutter called Aeolus. Yachtmaster Anthony has been building and sailing boats since he was a teenager. This is his second time racing in the Round the Island Race and in his first year, in 2010, they came ninth in the Traditional Gaffers class.
The boat's vital statistics are as follows: Aeolus is a 41ft extreme plank on edge gaff topsail cutter – thin, deep with slack bilges, long keel, internal lead ballast only of 6 tons and an excessive sail plan. She's 42ft on deck, 38ft LWL, 60ft overall with spars with a 9ft beam, 8ft draft and 15 tons. Her working sails measure 1,000 sq ft plus she has topsails of 450 sq ft.
History. Aeolus was originally built in California, designer unknown but using C.P. Kunhardt to develop a G.L. Watson-inspired rig. She was owned and raced locally and successfully and was later used for chartering. In 2003, she was imported to the UK but not sailed until her current owner purchased her in late 2008, did some experimental sailing, took the lines of the hull and commissioned Ed Burnett to produce a balanced sail plan. The new sails commissioned in late 2009 from SKB Sails, in Penryn near Falmouth, have been cut very flat; the mainsail has a much shorter foot and bigger headsails have achieved balance and beauty. She remains traditional with block, tackle and belaying pins as the sole method of securing ropes.
Rebuild. Aeolus was rebuilt in 1982/3 as an exact replica with the keelson as the only original timber. She's double planked in cedar to the waterline with light timber frames of ironwood, fir planks for the topsides, triple layered decking finished in Port Orford cedar and low bulwarks. Ironwood has been used for beams and structural timbers. The American history is being investigated.
Current. The spars and sail plan where replicated which, in the prevailing style at the turn of the last century, was over canvassed with a boom 10ft beyond the transom and light spars. This may have been suitable for inshore racing but produced excessive weatherhelm and an unseaworthy boat. This has been cured by the new cream working sails and tan topsails with a large symbol A~ on the sails representing the wind god Aeolus escaping from a jar, where he had been imprisoned by Zeus, and so blowing Odysseus back away from the underworld.
Prior owners in the UK have added an engine, electrics and wireless instruments (a gasp of horror was heard from traditionalists) but when sailing she remains true to her era. The lead ingots have been all removed and the bilges cleaned to reveal a hull in good condition. The rigging has been reconditioned and improved to make sail handling easier. The interior remained basic during the 2010/11 winter, however full cruising accommodation is being fitted in a traditional style to include a wood burning stove and six berths.
There's another, briefer, nod to all things Greek from the entry Ithaca, a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 34.2 who will be bearing first time skipper Nick Lee from Haslemere, Surrey and crew around the famous 50 nautical mile course.
Better late than never
We now take a leap forward to the present day and a brand new boat called Feya, a Beneteau Oceanis 34 that went afloat for the very first time on Good Friday and was handed over to her owner John Samson-Snell from Cranbrook in Kent, on 28th April. Their inaugural Race together on June 25th is forming part of Freya's shakedown trials. We wish them both well.
However, I've actually managed to unearth another yacht that makes that Easter delivery date look early!
Kate is a Tarac 33, built in Sweden and loaned to sailmaker Jeremy White by S.D. Marine at Hamble Point Marina. She is arriving in the UK two weeks before the Race. Jeremy is borrowing Kate to take some people who have helped his family for 'a great day out. It's pay back time', says Jeremy. She's designed as a 2-3 person performance cruiser but not as an IRC Racer, so she'll be racing under the Island Sailing Club Rating System, more commonly referred to as ISCRS.
How do you rate?
Based on the total entry number of 1110 as I write, the Island Sailing Club's Entries Team has processed 618 ISCRS entries against 343 IRC entries.
On the subject of ratings, 'Throughout the history of ratings, owners tend to feel 'hard done by' by their rating system but it is important to remember that the Round the Island Race is a 50 nautical mile race and that even between boats in a One-Design class, there will be huge differences in elapsed times, sometimes as much as 20%. A good helmsman with a well prepared crew will always win on the water!' So writes Sonia Mayes, currently the Island Sailing Club’s Rear Commodore Sailing, an ISAF International Judge and the person who has administered the ISC Rating System since 2005. Sonia has generously penned a highly informative article entitled '80 Years of Ratings in the Round the Island Race' on the official Race website under the banner of ‘Hot Topics’. It's definitely worth a read.
Louise Pilkington from London has entered Simon Bolivar, her 1963-built South Coast One-Design (SCOD) carrying sail and hull number 81. Her boat was built by Burnes Shipyard in Bosham. The SCOD is a 25ft 11in (7.7m) long-keeled cruiser/racer designed by the late Charles Nicholson in 1955. There were 106 SCODs built up until 1970 by a variety of builders including Burnes, Clare Lallow, Camper & Nicholson, Woodnutts and WA Souter. The majority of these are still in use today and some have ranged as far as the Americas and Australia. They race under ISCRS.
Another female skipper from London and competing this year is Caron Saul who has enrolled PINKFISH, her Beneteau Oceanis 40 built in 2008. They've already done the Race a few times together and she says that a group of girls are also going round again. 'There are four skippers onboard, but only one boss'.
Revolution is one of three Evolution 26s entered thus far, the other two being Wicked and Temptation. Revolution, built in 1981 is owned and skippered by Ian Wall from Theale, Berkshire and he's entered 13 times and achieved first in class twice!
Pure Ambition is the appropriate name of the Boat Share Club's Beneteau First 27.7 being raced for the second year in succession by Chris Cooper who is deaf. To him the Race represents a motivational challenge to prove what can be achieved with limited hearing. Chris skippers with two very close friends on board, Doug Waters and Steve Illingworth who he has known for 35 years and Doug's son James, to whom Chris is Godfather.
We have two Norfolk Gypsies competing so far - Kenneth Moore's Kingfisher, built in 1990 and the only Norfolk Gypsy to have completed a Round the Island Race, and Gypsy Rowena skippered by Lachlan McKenzie.
I always enjoy looking through the entries in the Gaffer class and was equally delighted to see that Maybird is back for our 80th Anniversary Race. This Fred Shepherd Classic 43ft Gaff Rigged Ketch was built in 1937 and has only recently undergone a three-year restoration project. She is in stunning concourse condition - lots of details on the website. She was previously owned by Rear Commodore of Royal Yacht Squadron, John Russell, before departing to New Zealand for 35 years. All the crew are experienced classic yacht racers and craftsmen involved in the restoration project.
James Gresham from Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, works in Formula One Grand Prix Racing doing tyre supply for Pirelli. He's racing Trader Jo, (jointly owned with Nick Inchbald), a Contessa 32. Trader Jo is winner of six Contessa National Championships and three Cowes Week regattas.
In the Sportsboats (IRC) we welcome owner/skipper Fergus Jack racing Irascibull, a 1995-built Bull 7000. The Bull 7000 was designed by New Zealander Greg Young and built as a production trailer yacht (the term 'sportsboat' hadn’t been invented in the early 90s). The Bull 7000 was designed as a cruising yacht first and foremost that could be cruised by two people but could accommodate two adults and two children. It was also designed to race with three crew and a big emphasis was put into designing a lot of form stability and a low centre of gravity. The hull shape is very contemporary even by today’s standards and as its designer's website boasts, 'with its Open class style hull shape, the Bull 7000 is still one of the fastest reaching sportsboats available'.
After 40 years of doing this amazing sailing event, Martyn Wheatley, from Lymington, is back again for his 41st Round the Island Race, on board Cloud Nine, an International H Boat built in 1979. Martyn's knowledge and skill, after years of experience, finally paid off in 2000 when he won the highly coveted Gold Roman Bowl.
At the other end of the scale is teenager Matt Ponsford racing his parents’ new Dufour 45e, built this year. Chosen One is his platform to show off his skills as a skipper in this year's Race. Matt has won the Raymarine Young Sailor Trophy for the last two years and now, at just over 18 years old, he wants to win another RTI Race Trophy so has asked his parents, Lynda and Graham, if he could skipper. He first did the Race aged 14 in a 21ft Beneteau but hadn't realised he was eligible for the Raymarine award but as soon as he entered for it he won it, two years in succession.
My tailpiece entry in this round up has to be a heartfelt welcome back to the last boat home in 2010, Prohor, described by her owner/skipper Anton Mirosnitsenko as a 'trawler type trying to be a racer'. Obviously Anton is Russian but he lives in Emsworth in Hampshire. Prohor is a Colvic Watson 28.6 and 2010 was Anton's first ever Round the Island Race. He may have been last within the time limit but it was still a great honour for him and he and Prohor are back to race another day. Anton says his friends and business partners have no experience but come for the trophies and some fun!
Don't forget to make your donation to the Race Charity the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust. It's really simple to do. Just click here and select a boat and crew member who you would like to support and buy a virtual mile of the Race.
Standard entries close on 28th May. Click on the ‘Enter online’ button on the Home Page.
Round the Island Race website