Mervyn Wheatley shares his race experiences

Sailors gathered at the Royal Western Yacht Club in Plymouth yesterday afternoon, to celebrate the launch of the Shetland Round Britain & Ireland 2010 race.

Veteran sailor Mervyn Wheatley, who competed in the OSTAR 2009 earlier this year, was guest speaker at the event and beguiled the audience with his extraordinary tales of the race. As the 2010 race will be Mervyn’s sixth, there seemed no better candidate for this role.

Still four months from the entry deadline (31st January 2010), 26 teams have already signed up for the two-handed race, including the winner of the OSTAR 2009, Jankees Lampe. Jankees broke the record for a 40ft vessel when he completed the trans-Atlantic race earlier this year in just 17 days, 17 hours and 40 minutes; making him the one to watch in next year’s Shetland Round Britain & Ireland. The race is limited to 50 boats so it is advised that those interested in taking part contact the RWYC soon to avoid disappointment.

The Shetland Round Britain & Ireland race has the support of many sailing greats; including Pete Goss MBE. Supporters and 2010 competitors who attended the launch event included Mary Falk, Jerry Freeman and David Southwood (previously race director of OSTAR 2009).

Shetland Islands Council announced its sponsorship of the race in June and took a leading role in organising the launch. Sandy Cluness, Convener of the SIC, spoke at the event detailing why the council undertook the race sponsorship and the welcome it will show the competitors when they reach Lerwick.

Lerwick, one of the largest marinas in Shetland, is one of the four compulsory stops during the race. This marina, and 34 others, makes Shetland the ideal sponsor of the race; especially when you also take into consideration its maritime links and history.

Douglas Irvine, business development manager for Shetland Islands Council, commented: “We are really pleased with the success of the race launch and the support we have received from all involved. This is a fantastic race and we are proud to be a part of it. We have a number of beautiful marinas across the Shetland Islands and Lerwick is one of our most popular. The crews are guaranteed a real Shetland welcome when they arrive!”

Peter Taylor, race director of Shetland Round Britain & Ireland 2010, added: “As well as those already signed up I am receiving interest from a number of other parties looking to take part in the race. We are getting a good mix of old and new competitors and it was great to see a number of these here at the launch. This race has a long history at RWYC and we are thrilled to have the support of Shetland Islands Council, allowing us to promote the race and what is stands for. It is a tough sail and the competitors will face some mighty conditions, it really is a great challenge.”

The race will depart from Plymouth on 6th June 2010 and see the competitors sail 2000 nautical miles around the UK coastline. The race has been hosted by the Royal Western Yacht Club every four years since 1966 .