This year’s J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race saw the fastest roundings ever as Sir Ben Ainslie’s AC45 and Mike Slade’s Leopard blew the multihull and monohull records clean out of the water.
A superb summer’s day with bright sun and a moderate to fresh offshore wind gave ideal conditions for the 1,459 boats entered in this year’s J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race.
The strongest winds were experienced early in the day, just after dawn, and sped Sir Ben Ainslie’s 45ft America’s Cup catamaran J.P. Morgan BAR around the Island at record breaking speed. He crossed the finish line of the 50-mile race just after 8am in 2 hours 52 minutes 15 seconds, carving more than 16 minutes off Francis Joyon’s 2001 time and taking the record time to less than three hours
Speaking immediately after finishing, Sir Ben Ainslie dedicated his win in memory of Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson, and said: “We had a fantastic race the conditions were perfect. It was nice to come out and do this in his honour and to get the record is extra special.”
Second across the finish line was Mike Slade’s ICAP Leopard. Having sailed the first half of the race in 1 hour 40 minutes the 100ft monohull looked to be well inside the record time of 3 hours 53 minutes she set in 2008. However, Leopard slowed in the second half of the race and it wasn’t clear that she would better the record time until she was a few minutes away from the finish. She finally crossed the line at 0843.50, shaving 9 minutes 45 seconds off her previous record.
Speaking while enjoying a glass of celebratory champagne, Slade said: “When we were rounding St Catherine’s Point we were concerned that the wind would start dying off Shanklin – but it stayed up all the way round the Island.”
The TP52 5 West, owned and helmed throughout the race by Sir Keith Mills, with Robert Greenhalgh as boat skipper, was overall winner of the Gold Roman Bowl, the prize awarded to the first boat in the IRC rating system.
This year’s event proved to be one of the fastest J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Races ever for the whole fleet. For a full report, see pages 24, June issue.