Saturday, 19 June 2010

RTI: Joyon and Slade Take Line Honours in 79th edition

Paul Campbell-James in Oman Sail's The Wave takes the X40s, 47 seconds ahead of Loick Peyron in Oman Sail's Masirah. Khamis Al Anbouri was on Masirah last year and The Wave this year - always the winning boat!

Francis Joyon's line-honours winning IDEC trimaran. Image copyright onEdition.

by Anne Hinton

Sixteen thousand sailors either did not go to bed or got out of bed before dawn in Britain to start this year's J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race as the sun rose above the horizon, with the first boats getting away from Cowes at 5am. West-going tidal streams determine the start time, in order to ensure that boats clear the Royal Yacht Squadron line even if there is little wind.

Boats competing in the 79th edition of the Round the Island Race. Image copyright onEdition.

Dame Ellen MacArthur set the fleet away on the first start, before going afloat to start later herself, with the Ellen MacArthur Trust. Ben Ainslie had made it over for the day from the south of France (Marseille) TP52 Audi MedCup regatta, and he, Shirley Robertson and Paul Goodison, as British Olympic medallists, helmed or sailed on boats associated with charities in this year's race.

Velsheda just after the start at dawn. Image copyright onEdition.

ICAP Leopard (Mike Slade) led the large monohulls, including Velsheda, away from the line in light northerlies in the first start, but it was the X40 catamarans that charged off after her in the second start - Francis Joyon's IDEC trimaran ensuring that there was sea room to put up a headsail and get under way, albeit slowly at first, as the wind was light initially.

At the Needles, ICAP Leopard was still in the lead. Oman Sail's The Wave Muscat (Paul Campbell-James) and ECOVER (Mike Golding) stayed closest to the island shore and were leading the Extreme 40s at this stage. However, Loick Peyron on Oman Sail's Masirah went close inshore just before the Needles - an option that regularly pays well - while the leading pair remained watching each other further offshore at this point. Masirah caught up substantially as a result. All the Extreme 40s had passed the Needles before IDEC arrived there.

Francis Joyon, line honours winner in IDEC. Image copyright onEdition.

Passing into Freshwater Bay, with the wind still light, the boats were swept westwards on the strong ebb tide. Team Metherell (Nick Moloney) went furthest out, but the others stayed inshore. After St Catherine's Point ECOVER was furthest inshore. However, past St Catherine's Point there was also a lot of chop, as the wind built to 17 knots, which slowed the X40s down and allowed Francis Joyon's IDEC to stretch her legs and pass them.

ECOVER sailing with the winning Extreme 40, Paul Campbell-James' The Wave Muscat. Image copyright onEdition.

IDEC finished well ahead, at speed, off Cowes at 09h 34m 05s - so her rounding was in 04h 24m 05s, well outside her course record of 03h 08m 29s. She was followed by the four Extreme 40s. By the time they had got past the Forts inside the eastern Solent once more, the two Omani boats were well in the lead. Paul Campbell-James held off Loick Peyron to finish 24 seconds ahead. Oman Sail's The Wave Muscat finished at 09h 37m 33s, then Oman Sail Masirah at 09h 37m 57s, Team Metherell at 09h 44m 10s and finally ECOVER at 09h 48m 45s.

Mike Slade's ICAP Leopard was the first monohull to finish. Image copyright onEdition.

ICAP Leopard crossed the line at 10h 10m 06s so her rounding was in 05h 00m 06s, way outside her record of 03h 53m 05s. The J Class yacht Velsheda finished at 10h 45m 02s.

Smaller yachts are still finishing, and are expected to continue to do so into the evening. The handicap winner, of the Gold Roman Bowl, is not known at this stage. There has been one dismasting, out of the 1,750 starters in this year's race: this befell a classic Tumlar boat off Dunnose, but all crew are safe. The prizegiving is on Sunday at the Island Sailing Club, organisers of Britain's favourite sailing race.

J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race