YOUNG & OLD, ANCIENT & MODERN – ALL FABULOUS!
Peta Stuart-Hunt reports
So many of the boats that enter this extraordinary race have a fascinating provenance and the Island Sailing Club, organisers of this 79th edition of the J.P.Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, is delighted to be welcoming back previous competitors to the Race this year along with a healthy turnout of first timers and/or totally novice crews. For the latter, the Club has put together a very handy First Timers’ Guide for download off the official Race website and perusal at leisure. Some of the ‘older timers’ might even find it a useful and informative aide memoire! http://www.roundtheisland.org.uk
Some interesting entry news
Wildlife is a Dehler 36 SQ (Speed & Quality), owned and skippered by 76-year old Peter Freeborn from West Sussex who has been sailing for 50 years and thinks he has done ‘around five’ Round the Island Races during that time. Wildlife is a shortened keel Dehler 36, only drawing 1.65m and she doesn’t have radar fitted, but uses the Automatic Identification System (AIS). When asked why he still enjoys doing the Race, Peter immediately responded that it’s all about the challenge and the participation, commenting, “I still have that need to take on the challenge inside me.”
Peter clearly enjoys designing ‘things’. For example the back of the boat has an aerial mast that also acts a hoist for lifting outboard engines, dinghies or, he explains, it would prove useful in a man overboard situation. He has also adapted the boat to include a smaller steering wheel as he has leg injuries and replacement joints resulting from a car accident; this gives him a little more space and better freedom of movement around the cockpit. Apart from adapting his own boat, Peter has also, amongst other things, designed a training product to help with spacial awareness for use by all sports people to give them that extra winning edge. I wonder if he uses it on his boat…
Poppy is a standard Westerly Longbow hull re-rigged with an experimental Junk Rig with less sail area than the standard Bermudan rig with No.1 Genoa. Slieve McGalliard is the R & D Secretary of the Junk and Advanced Cruising Rig Association (JRA), and is racing to compare the performance with similar sized Bermudan rigged boats. The JRA, formed in 1980, has the aim of furthering the development of the junk rig and other unstayed and/or battened cruising rigs and creating an international community of people interested in such rigs to share experience and ideas.
The Hurley 24 Seaquill is owned and skippered by Sophia Richards from Gravesend in Kent. It’s her first time entering a race on her own boat however she is clearly a very experienced sailor. Sophia and her crew are all sailing instructors at the Medina Valley Centre on the Isle of Wight, an established residential centre for environmental and outdoor education for children, young people and adults.
Chrissie David from Gosport, is a yacht surveyor, a mother of five and grandmother of two and she has entered her home-restored Contessa 26 Black Pearl. Friend and fellow surveyor, Martin from Barbados, is coming over from the Caribbean to crew for her.
From Haslemere in Surrey, Helena and Graham Douglas own Wight Riot, a Maxi 999 (33ft). On her entry form Helena as the skipper states very clearly: ‘Was a cruiser. Now wants to be a racer.’ Scary!
Highly Sprung is skippered by Jerry Kent from Shoreham, who reminds us that his boat, an MG Spring, is the same model as that featured in the BBC’s 1980s long-running sailing saga ‘Howards’ Way’. Jerry describes himself as being tall with long girly hair and his crew are all ‘tall’ except for their bowman. Not sure what that’s all about!
A musical interlude
Aurora, a Beneteau 343, is described by her owner and skipper Tim Lees, as ‘a fine, fun, family boat with a real sense of adventure. We launched her new on Lake Windermere in the spring of 2008 and she made it quite clear from the start that she was an ambitious boat with grand ideas’. She has been moved from her home at Maiden Marine on Lake Windermere to Port Solent in Hampshire for the summer. Her crew hails entirely from Lake Windermere and all are Round the Island Race novices. Tim says to compete in this most famous of yachting events in his own boat is his ‘dream in progress’.
One of my dreams in progress is to install the delightful singer, songwriter and sailor, Peter Skellern, at a piano in a corner of my living room (complete with choir and the Grimethorpe Colliery Band) and have him play and sing just for me. Realistically, the closest I’m going to get is to reveal with some excitement that Skellern’s collaborator, Richard Stilgoe OBE, songwriter, lyricist and musician, has entered his TEK35 Adelaide.
In recent years Richard has become increasingly involved in charity work, notably founding the Orpheus Trust in Surrey, a performing arts centre for young disabled people. His boat is one of John Shuttleworth’s multis, Hull #3 from Tek-composites in Canada, launched in 2001.
The exceedingly pretty Mary Lunn is a one-off yawl designed by the great Uffa Fox in Cowes and built in 1940 by the Mazagon Dock Co, Bombay, the boatyard where Sir Robin Knox-Johnston finished off Suhaili. Mary Lunn wasn’t commissioned until after the war. Shipped back through Suez she was sold from Yarmouth, IoW in 1946 to Viscount Runciman. The present owner/skipper, Robin Whaite, is Rear Commodore Sail and Power of the Little Ship Club in London.
Racing in the Traditional Gaffer Class, Ocean Pearl (pictured) was built in 1933 by Nobles of Fraserburgh and registered at Peterhead in Aberdeenshire. At 37ft 6in LWL, she was just under the 40ft length restrictions, which meant that she could fish within the three-mile limit of shore, and between 1933 and 1939 she was worked with nets and lines out of Peterhead. Between 1939 and 1945 she was requisitioned by the Navy and served as a supply vessel in Scapa Flow, before returning to the fishing industry after the end of the war.
In 1948 she was owned by a J. William Tait, who fished her until 1967, before selling her to Joseph Anthony Moore Phillips, father of Captain Mark Phillips, the first husband of HRH Princess Anne, who based her at Whitby, North Yorkshire. In 1981, three owners later, she was taken to Staines in Middlesex to be restored, but was eventually abandoned in a disused tarmac works, where she lay for 15 years before being taken to Combes Boatyard in West Sussex.
Nick Gates took over ownership in 1999 and over the past 10 years has rebuilt her, converting her from motor to sail. She is rigged as a Manx nobby, with standing lug main and mizzen, and sets 1600 sq ft of canvas.
Overlord is a 1936 Windfall yacht built by Aberking & Rasmusan for the Luftwaffe. She was part of a fleet of 100 sq.metre, 50 sq.metre and 30 sq.metre yachts used at Lemverder for Officer training and in particular, for training Luftwaffe navigators.
In 1945, Pelikan, as Overlord was then named, plus many more yachts in the fleet were taken as prizes of war at Kiel and later included in the reparations agreement. Many of the yachts were distributed amongst the British Services and Pelikan, was used by The Sappers at Chatham who re-named her Overlord.
Between 1946 and 1955 she had a distinguished RORC record with the Sapper Yacht Club. In 1961 she was bought by Tony Venables, a 33-year old retired Army Officer who had been her skipper whilst serving in the Royal Army Service Corps. Tony, who was planning to sell her after two years, to recoup his capital and the running costs, was persuaded to retain her and formed the Overlord Sailing Club, now the Offshore Cruising Club (OCC), which effectively owns her. Tony Murphy is one of the OCC’s skippers who has sailed on Overlord for around 20 years and will be skippering her in this year’s Race.
Enigma is a well-known Dubois Quarter Tonner with a great track record. Ed Dubois has lent the boat to a New Zealand crew for the Coutts Quarter Ton Cup Regatta and generously said they could keep her for a few extra days to do the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race. The co-skippers are Jamie McDowell and Brett Linton and amongst the crew, one name leaps out, that of Roy Dickson – a fixture of New Zealand yachting who in a lifetime of sailing has accumulated numerous sailing titles. Roy was part of the crew led by Chris Bouzaid that won the One Ton Cup in Germany in 1969, and first put New Zealand on the world yacht racing map. He is also Chris Dickson’s father!
The first of David Thomas’s 1979 production Bolero Quarter Tonners named Ayanami and owned by Roger and Liz Swinney, has raced in virtually every Round the Island Race since 1980 with a crew of Cowes-based locals who have all been racing together for 20 years. All that experience on board surely gives them an edge…?
Lastly, for now, Rob Murray from Marlow, Buckinghamshire, is a man with a lucky 13 Round the Island Races under his belt but this year he may well have a 3-month old baby tucked under his arm. He reckons that if the weather is light, baby will definitely be doing the race with him on Alexina, an X-412. Rob doesn’t mention whether Mum’s going to be on board fulfilling her crewing duties as well as providing a feeding station!