ICAP Leopard already over halfway round, man overboard on catamaran

There were plenty of bleary eyes on show this morning as the fleet began to gather off Cowes at 0430hrs. Broadcaster, writer and gardener Alan Titchmarsh was standing by to fire the first cannon on the Royal Yacht Squadron start line at 0500hrs, sending the Open 60s and the rest of Class IRC0 on their way.

The wind was a solid 10 knots from the west, allowing competitors to show a clean pair of heels, and the race sequence was completed on time by 0640. The weather, due to increase to 20kts by afternoon, is good news for the crew aboard Mike Slade’s new super-maxi ICAP Leopard. Slade could still break his own record for fastest monohull, a time of 4 hours, 5 minutes and 40 seconds that has stood since 2001. At 0730 the boat had already passed the halfway mark, St Catherine’s point, so are still in with a chance of making Round the Island history. If she is to beat the current race record, Leopard needs to cross the finish by 0905.40 hrs.

There were two early morning dramas in the multihull fleet – Ideal Stelrad ( a Formula 28 catamaran) skipper Ross Hobson was dismasted off Lymington. Everyone on board is fine, the mast has been recovered and Ross is returning to Cowes. Meanwhile, while executing a tack, Extreme 40 Offshore Challenges Sailing Team lost a man overboard. Charles Darbyshire was knocked off the catamaran but has now been returned to the boat and is safe and sound.

While most of the fleet battle it out for prizes, some have already been won. Entries from further afield joined ‘feeder races’ from the Channel Islands and the West Country. The Brixham Yacht Club race left Torbay for the Solent on 20th June, a straight line distance of 90 miles, but they soon encountered lumpy seas in Lyme Bay in a stiff force 7 southerly. Some decided to retire but those that made it to the finish included James Boret’s X332 “Mardy Gras”, first in IRC and with the fastest time of just over twelve hours. “Bathia” (Nigel Banford) took the ISC Handicap Division and “Peekaboo” (Chris Aylmer) led the multihulls.

Picture: OnEdition