This year’s JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race was as ever a real test of sailing skill and nerve with Champagne conditions and big rolling seas to surf down. For the first time ever the Race was televised live and broadcast around the world via the Island Sailing Club’s website. Our two televised starts featured a number of our competitors and was a spectacular sight especially as we were all a bit occupied to take it in at the time. 6 Contessa 26s entered the IRC fleet and 5 entered the ISC handicap fleet.
Starting early the two fleets took the ebb tide to the Needles in 8-10 kts of breeze. In the IRC fleet Chris Charlesworth’s monochromatic Meow was on the front row of the grid in clear air and the best tide. The chameleon coloured Grayling with three generations of the Rogers family onboard was on course side with a minute to go and struggled to get back against the tide and through the mass of boats lining up at the Squadron end of the line. Unfortunately they were involved in a collision that caused minor damage and ended their race. Mike Harrison’s Navy Blue Jiminy Cricket was also close to the line at the Squadron end but was in heavy traffic and disturbed air. The rest of the fleet was not far back and all got away cleanly.
Meow was leading at Newtown Creek staying to the south of the tidal conveyor belt followed closely by Euan and Tom’s Genesee surprising many with a new found turn of speed up-wind. At the Needles Meow led the fleet inside the Varvassi wreck about 5 minutes ahead of Jiminy Cricket with Genesee opting to go the long way round outside the wreck. The rest of the fleet all safely rounded the needles and hoisted kites to take the building breeze to St.Cats. Wind was against tide during this leg which created quite a big rolling sea which enabled the fleet to surf down the waves at speeds of up to 9kts. Meow extended her lead over Mike’s very well sailed Jiminy Cricket and headed into the shore at Atherfield Ledges to pick up the back eddy and peeled from runner to reacher to fetch the headland at St.Cats. Past the headland Meow then peeled back to the runner but struggled to gybe her big kite in 24 kts of breeze only doing so just before running out of water by the beach.
The fleet then passed Dunose and funnelled into Bembridge ledge for a kite drop and hardening up to fetch Ryde post. Meow was ahead of Jiminy Cricket by about 9 minutes on the water and 7 minutes on corrected time at Bembridge. Meow reached Ryde post and started to tack around Ryde sands when a near collision with a vessel on port tack caused them to ground heavily on the sands for a period of about 20 minutes. This cost them a good placing in the overall Race and greatly eroded the lead in the Jeremy Rogers Trophy over the indefatigable Jiminy Cricket.
Meow eventually got afloat when her skipper jumped in to turn her round and push her into deep water. The boats tacked to follow Ryde sands and keep out of deep water as they punched the tide towards the Cowes finishing line. Meow was overhauled by Jiminy Cricket and pulled back to only a few seconds behind only to have to take avoiding action from another port tack boat just before the finishing line causing them to come to a complete stop. This enabled Jiminy Cricket to cross the line ahead of them by exactly 2 minutes on the water to deservedly win the Jeremy Rogers Trophy and 4th in division and a well deserved 13th overall - their best ever result in the race.
Meow who came 31st overall was followed over the line 12 minutes later by Genesse in 3rd and 11 mins later by Applejack which was well sailed by Craig’s girlfriend Natalie as he was being paid to race a big boat. Bringing up the rear was the lovely looking Concession with her new black North sails in a very respectable mid table in division for her new owner Graham in her first RTIR.
Meow, Grayling and Jiminy Cricket again represented the Island Sailing Club in the inter club Team Trophy and came 7th out of 22 Teams which considering only two boats finished was a remarkable achievement. Applejack represented the Hamble River SC and their Team came in 16th and Concession represented Brighton Marina Yacht Club coming in 19th place.
In the ISC Fleet Bob Coates sailed a blinder in Quincy to win by over half an hour and to take the David Sadler Trophy. Bob appears to be able to give several boats in IRC a run for their money and we hope to see him in this Class in the future.
Tom’s Nimue sailed a fine race closely followed by Skipjack and Umphlanga with Simon’s Sulali showing as being disqualified.
Congratulations to the finishers and commiserations to those that did not. It was a great day for most of our Class who acquitted themselves with distinction and proved yet again what a fantastic racer the Contessa 26 is.