Monday 20 September 2010

Races Around Islands... Part One: The Isle of Wight, UK

IDEC (Francis Joyon) on his way to taking line honours in the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race 2010. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.

by Anne Hinton

The Island Sailing Club, Cowes, has been running a Round the Island Race since 1931 and this race is listed amongst the world's largest and most famous yachting races. It is also the fourth largest participatory sporting event in the UK.

J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race

Line honours in the 2010 J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race were taken by the current record holder Francis Joyon in IDEC. On he commented that, thanks to the new foils, they had regularly exceeded 30 knots, but lamented that the start had not been one hour later, as the winds and tides might then have enabled an attempt on the record time set earlier by IDEC for the course.

Overall handicap victory to Nordic Bear

Gold Roman Bowl winners (left to right) Brian Appleyard, Tim Hemsley and Bruce Hill. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.

The Gold Roman Bowl, for the winning boat on handicap, ahead of 1,753 other boats, went to the crew of the Lymington-based clinker-built Folkboat Nordic Bear. Brian Appleyard, who races a Flying Fifteen at Grafham Water near Huntingdon, had Bruce Hill and Tim Hemsley crewing for the race. They all knew each other from dinghy sailing on Frensham Pond, an inland lake near Guildford in Surrey.

Bruce Hill, brother of Wellington-based Yachting New Zealand coach Mark Hill, describes the conditions to be found on Frensham Pond, and Nordic Bear's race around the Isle of Wight in 2010 (they were runners-up on handicap in the same race in 2009). He also mentions their inauspicious start to the 2010 race, sailing from Lymington to Cowes in the middle of the night in pouring rain, followed by spending three hours soaked through in sleeping bags, before getting up at 4am for the race start at dawn off Cowes!

Nordic Bear. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.

Later, the team admitted that they had largely stuck to the 5 metre depth contour going around the island, and had gone even further into the shallows over Ryde Sands, at one time benefitting from the shallow draft of the Folkboat by sailing close past a boat that had run aground and was in the process of being rescued!

ETNZer in the race

On board the ECOVER X40: Andrew McLean (left) and Mike Golding. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.

Kiwi Andy McLean, who had recently sailed to victory with Emirates Team New Zealand in the Louis Vuitton Trophy La Maddalena, filled in on the bow for Mike Golding's ECOVER Extreme 40 for the Round the Island Race. Anne Hinton asked him how he got involved with Team New Zealand...

AH: How/where did you start sailing?

AM: I sailed Starlings and Sunbursts at Kapiti Boating Club, then joined the Youth Programme at the RNZYS when I went to Auckland University.

AH: Did you go straight to Team New Zealand after getting a first in Engineering at Auckland University?

AM: Pretty much. I swept the floors to start with! Ross Blackman got me doing that from 2001. I also did software work with the weather programme for Clouds (Roger Badham).

ECOVER heads down the Solent. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.

AH: Did you do any sailing?

AM: Not with Team New Zealand at this time! However, I did do other sailing.

Andy (also known as Animal) was doing mid-bow on the B boat, as well as weather team work, for the 2007 America's Cup. He has since done the Volvo Ocean Race with Green Dragon, and also sailed on the Volvo Ocean Race Extreme 40 a few years ago, but is still with ETNZ.

As Andy sailed Sunbursts and other dinghies from Kapiti Boating Club he has also taken part in their 'round the island' race, locally referred to as 'around Kapiti', but actually around the much smaller, and slightly closer to the North Island coast, 'Aeroplane Island' - so-called as it takes on an appearance, from one angle, as that of an upside down Boeing 747.

The Wave, Muscat, helmed by Paul Campbell-James, was the first Extreme 40 across the finishing line, followed closely by her sistership from Oman Sail, Masirah. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.

A French Alternative: Tour de Belle Île

Loick Peyron advised everyone at the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race that France has recently acquired a round-the-island race too, in Brittany.

Loick Peyron was keen to show his support for England in the World Cup, as France had already been knocked out. This was prior to the Round the Island Race from Cowes, June 2010. Image copyright onEdition.

Loick Peyron has never actually done this race. “I would like to do the race around Belle Île in Brittany. Each time it happens during an X40 (2009), and this year during a D35, event! It is held in May.

“They start from La Trinité and you cross the Bay of Quiberon – a bit like here [Cowes] with the tide and that," Loick said. "It has the same spirit as here. There is a bit less current at the beginning. There are strong currents of – a bit less than here – 2 or 3 knots. Nice thermal winds in Brittany!"

Loick Peyron sailed Oman Sail's Masirah into second place in the Extreme 40s in the Round the Island Race 2010, finishing just a few seconds behind their team mates in The Wave, Muscat, after about five hours of racing. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.

Brittany is also a very pleasant cruising area. Belle-Île is the largest of the Bréton islands. It is a plateau of 85 km² notched by many small valleys; far smaller than the Isle of Wight. The fastest boats take more than 3 hours to go around. Marc Guillemot has taken Safran on this race, but has not yet won it.

Loick Peyron (FRA) of Oman Sail talking to Richard Simmonds prior to the Round the Island Race 2010, in Cowes. Image copyright onEdition.

A general description of the Tour de Belle Île is "a sailing event in an exceptional place of interest, open to everyone. The race will leave from the middle of the Quiberon bay, to a wonderful sailing around Belle-île en mer. Spellbinding contrasts and variety of amazing landscapes will enhance this exceptional circuit. On small or big sailing ships, professionals or amateurs, used to regattas or to cruises, you are invited to participate thanks to accessible rules. The race around Belle-Île : friendliness, simplicity and pleasure at sea."

Video of the second edition of the race in 2009, with over 300 competitors:

The Tour de Belle Île race in Brittany, northwest France could be an additional prelude to the ISC's Round the Island Race for those in Europe next year, maybe? Please see the links for the Notice of Race and 2010 race results.

There is also the Société Nautique de Genève's Bol d'Or race on Lake Geneva, Switzerland, held the weekend before the Round the Island Race in June. This commences from Geneva and goes to the far end of the lake, at Le Bouveret, and back to Geneva; racing around a lake as opposed to an island. This race was very slow, due to lack of wind, in 2010. Loick Peyron reckoned that he averaged 2.5 knots, only, on the Décision 35 Okalys-Corum (SUI 2) of Nicolas Grange. Dona Bertarelli's Ladycat Décision 35 won the Bol d'Or 2010. Unlike the Tour de Belle Île, which is shorter than the Round the Island Race, the Bol d'Or is much longer, and can take over night to finish.

The 1851 Cup

New Mug by Garrard: The Royal Thames YC Cup. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.

Harold Bennett (NZL), Principal Race Officer, The 1851 Cup (and also the 33rd America's Cup). Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.

The ISC's Round the Island annual race in June is anti-clockwise in direction, but in 1851 the schooner America and the British yachts went clockwise around the island. This race, on 22nd August 1851, was re-enacted by BMW ORACLE Racing and TEAMORIGIN on Thursday, 5th August, as they set off from the RYS line in a clockwise direction and on this occasion both boats went around a mark laid in the position of the former Nab Light (America omitted to do so in 1851 as the sailing instructions were vague on that point).

The skippers shake hands in front of the trophy: Ben Ainslie (TEAMORIGIN racing with Jaguar), left, and Jimmy Spithill (BMW ORACLE Racing). Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

In 2010, the racing was very close between the two boats up until the Nab Light mark, when TEAMORIGIN sailed over their own spinnaker. They subsequently trailed BMW ORACLE Racing around the back of the island, and then had a jib halyard problem about halfway across Freshwater Bay (approaching the Needles) and dropped to over 2km behind.

BMW ORACLE Racing leads the round the island race. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.

As this was an exhibition match, the race was re-started at the Needles with BMW ORACLE Racing allowed a one minute advantage off the starting line. The boats remained in that order up the Solent, arriving majestically under kite and 20-25 knots of breeze in sunshine up to the Royal Yacht Squadron line, where BMW ORACLE Racing took the winning gun, and the New Mug by Garrard, the £7,500 Royal Thames Cup (which remains, however, held in the possession of the RTYC, unlike its predecessor, the Auld Mug).

TEAMORIGIN racing with Jaguar heads downwind at the end of the round the island race. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.

Both boats sailed in this event belonged to BMW ORACLE Racing (as they were a more evenly matched pair than sailing TEAMORIGIN's one boat alongside one boat from BMW ORACLE Racing). TEAMORIGIN, racing with Jaguar, had the older of the two BMW ORACLE Racing boats for the 1851 Cup.

BMW ORACLE Racing leads TEAMORIGIN racing with Jaguar past the Gurnard Ledge buoy, near to the finishing line at the RYS, Cowes. Image copyright Gilles Martin-Raget/BMW ORACLE Racing.

The 1851 Cup
J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race