Ben Ainslie among those competing in the Round the Island Race

Nearly 1,500 yachts have entered the race around the Isle of Wight

Sunshine and a fast race track are being promised for the nearly 1,500 yachts entered for Saturday’s J. P. Morgan Round the Island (of Wight) Race, including the sponsor’s favourite son, Ben Ainslie.

The recently knighted quadruple gold plus silver Olympic medallist has brought his Ben Ainslie Racing AC45, the 45-foot version of the 72-foot America’s Cup wing-powered catamaran, to Cowes but needed to keep a very careful eye on the weather.

Too much wind would have made any attempt at the race and the multihull record of 3hrs 8mins 29secs too risky for him and his crew New Zealander Andrew McLean, America’s Cup veteran Matt Cornwell, and fellow Finn singlehanders Andrew Mills and Mark Andrews. Defending Extreme Series champion Mark Bulkeley, nursing broken bones in his right hand, coaches,

They were all due to attend the memorial service on Friday for Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson, himself a former Finn sailor, a double medallist in the Star with Iain Percy, and killed while training on an AC72 recently on San Francisco Bay.

The forecast of 10 to 15 knots from the north-west and north should speed the fleet down the Solent as it begins its 50-mile anti-clockwise course around the island and it could even be sunny as the day progresses. But the first starters at 05.00 will need protection against the chill. Ainslie and co., due to start at 05.10, will be back for breakfast.

Not quite so quick but hoping to set a personal best is Alex Thomson, third this year in the Vendée Globe round the world singlehander. His Open 60 Hugo Boss has been through a complete refit, tweaked to inshore racing mode, and is going on to contest the Rolex Fastnet in August, doublehanded with Guillermo Altadil.

Having Jenson Button on board was looking increasingly unlikely but, then, when Lewis Hamilton was on board for the 2008 race there was a start-line shunt. What was in his sights was a personal best. The ATR works team had a first objective of beating his time of 4hr 20min set in 2004.

“I’m looking forward to racing with so many thousands of other people, but you have to keep your wits about you,” said Thomson. “Stay out of trouble has been my mission for the last few years, but this is the London Marathon of sailing and we will enjoy that.” 

Largest, and the current monohull record holder, is Mike Slade’s 100-foot Leopard and attracting special interest is the 30-foot Collective Spirit, made from contributions of wood from over 1,200 people, including a sliver from a Jimi Hendrix guitar.

Also conceived as a work of art for the 2012 Olympics, the man who built her, Mark Covell also hopes that the RTI will signal a busy future afloat. “It will be the start of her life as a charter boat, giving people the chance to enjoy the exciting experience of sailing her at the same time as appreciating her as a working piece of art.”

Covell will not be back for breakfast, and there will be many who will still be finishing their race well after lunch.

 

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss