Sir Ben Ainslie and his crew onboard J.P.Morgan BAR AC45 smashed the Round the Island Race multihull record today off the Isle of Wight. The record which has stood for 12 years was obliterated by 16 minutes and 8 seconds.
The team started at sunrise in perfect northerly 15 knot conditions with the other multihull classes for the 50-mile race around the Isle of Wight off the south coast of the UK. Flying past the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, Ainslie’s AC45 catamaran headed towards the first starters, negotiating a field of boats before breaking free and heading out towards the leading monohulls on the east side of the Island. By the time the crew reached the Needles, J.P.Morgan BAR had taken the lead and accelerated towards St. Catherine’s Point on the south of the Island, which marks the halfway mark on the course. Just one hour and twenty minutes into the race the crew were past halfway, with the record clearly in their sights.
The south section of the Island proved to be the trickiest part of the course, big gusts of over 25 knots meant challenging conditions for the crew as they battled to keep the boat on track. Bowman Matt Cornwell said, “It was quite gusty coming down into St Catherine’s Point, and we had some big puffs it was quite difficult for us with the difficult angles reaching when it’s very windy, so we had to play around that to be safe we had a few tricky moments but we got through it ok, but as our esteemed navigator, if you can ever have a navigator on a boat like this, Mark Andrews, forgot to put the batteries in the Veliocteks so we didn’t know how fast we were going or where we were going we just knew we had to get round the Island so that made it simpler!”
Once around the Fort on the west side of the course, the crew were on track for the record and on the home straight. A flotilla of boats came out to welcome the crew back to the finish as they crossed the line in a final time of 2 hours 52 minutes 15 seconds.
For the crew onboard J.P.Morgan BAR today was a special day as they were racing in honour of Andrew Simpson MBE, “It was a beautiful race the conditions were perfect for us, the boat performed incredibly well and the team sailed her really well, and so everything fell into place and we ended up breaking the multihull record. For us that was a real bonus because we really wanted to do the race in Andrew’s memory. Yesterday was such a difficult day to come out today and have such a wonderful race and to do it in his memory was very special,” Skipper Ben Ainslie.
This is the 82nd year of this classic race, the crew were sailing against 1459 boats with 15,000 competitors from all walks of life, from world-renowned sailors to families and first time racers.
J.P.Morgan BAR crew list
Sir Ben Ainslie (GBR) – Skipper
Matt Cornwell (GBR) – Bowman
Andrew Mills (GBR) – Runner/Floater
Mark Andrews (GBR) – Wing Trimmer
Andrew McLean (NZL) – Head Sail Trimmer