It will be a real family affair for a Shepton Mallet doctor when he once again takes part inthe J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race.
Skipper Simon Douglass and his five-strong crew including father Brian and 16-year-old son, Peter, are among 16,000 sailors set to tackle the famous 50 nautical mile J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race course around the Isle of Wight on Saturday 1 June.
Now in its 82nd year, the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, organised by the Island Sailing Club, is one of the largest yacht races in the world, regularly attracting over 1,700 boats, and is the fourth largest participation sporting event in the UK.
This will be the fifth time – and the fourth successive year skippering own boat, the Contessa 32 Nyaminyami – that Simon will compete in the Round the Island, having raced previously with two generations, with either Brian or his eldest son, Samuel, aboard.
But he hopes adding an additional Douglass to the ranks will help Nyaminyami improve on her best ever finish of fourth in the highly-competitive Contessa 32 class achieved last year.
Simon said: “It’s always enjoyable sailing with family. I’ve done a huge amount of sailing and racing with my father before, and while we can bicker a little bit, we get on very well in the boat and trust each other a huge amount. Peter is becoming a decent sailor. He is still quite inexperienced but I’m sure we will let him pull on a rope or two.
“Our results have improved year on year and I’d love to come in the top three this year. But there are some very well-established teams in our class, who race every weekend, while the Round the Island is the only race we always do. A top five finish would be no mean feat.
“We’ve done our homework though. J.P. Morgan Asset Management supplied GPS tracking last year so we’ve re-watched the race and saw where we went and looked at how we can make improvements this year. I’m not going to give any secrets away but we’re prepared!”
The Round the Island’s ‘Race for All’ ethos is unique in that enthusiastic amateurs get to race alongside some of the biggest names from the worlds of sailing, sport and entertainment. Previous high-profile participants include four-time Olympic champion, Ben Ainslie, double Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson, Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton, England rugby World Cup winner Will Greenwood and TV star Denise Van Outen.
The race starts on the famous Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes and most boats will finish the iconic race between eight and 10 hours depending on conditions.
Once again the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust – the charity set-up by the history-making round the world yachtswoman to rebuild young people’s confidence in recovery from cancer through sailing – is the official race charity for 2013. Through the #raceforall Twitter hashtag, J.P Morgan will donate 10p per #raceforall Tweet to the charity, with the goal of raising at least £3,000, as well as ramping up the online social media buzz around the race.
J.P. Morgan Asset Management has been title sponsor of the Round the Island Race for nine years and is committed until 2014. For more information about the 2013 Round the Island Race visit www.roundtheisland.org.uk