© ROLEX/Carlo Borlenghi


20220804094409-c854e902-meResidents and summer tourists alike will be able to see the start of one of the most challenging yacht races in the world on Sunday (7th August) with the start of the Sevenstar Round Britain & Ireland Race off Cowes.

There will be 2 starts for the groups of different size yachts from the Royal Yacht Squadron line at Cowes – 1 at 12noon and a 2nd shortly afterwards.

For those not wishing to view the fleet at Cowes, there will be the chance to view the race from other vantage points around the Island as this race starts Eastward. Travelling to Ryde the yachts then sail along the South Coast of the Island before heading to The Needles and thus on to the West of England, around Ireland, the top point of Scotland and the North Sea before returning to Cowes.

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Around 30 teams from around the world will be racing for the non-stop version of the tough 1,805nm race. Organised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club every 4 years since 1976, it has been a non-stop unassisted race since 2006. In this modern version of the race, over the years, 78 teams have achieved the honour of finishing, 39 have failed.

This 2022 edition features 120 professional and corinthian sailors from 14 different nations, including four female skippers and 7 crew under the age of 21. The overall winner will be decided by the best corrected time under the IRC Rating Rule and will be awarded the John Illingworth Trophy. IRC Classes will have individual trophies.

Route Map Srbir

2 IMOCAs will be gunning for Line Honours and the Monohull 60ft or less Race Record set by Artemis – Team Endeavour, skippered by Cowes sailor Brian Thompson. (2014: 5 days 14:00:54). However, the outright Monohull Course Record was set by Volvo 70 Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, skippered by Ian Walker (2014: 4 days 13:10:28).

Pip Hare’s IMOCA Medallia is the former Banque Populaire which won the 2016 race in the hands of Armel Le Cleach. Pip will be racing with a stellar crew and in 2021 became the 8th woman to finish the Vendée Globe, taking just over 90 days.

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Medallia’s main rival is Oliver Ocean Heer Racing. Swiss skipper Oliver Heer lives in Hamble and has a British crew including 2-time Volvo Ocean Race navigator Libby Greenhalgh. Originally built for Loick Peyron as Gitana 80, this Farr design has completed four Vendée Globes. Oliver Heer was in the overall winning crew on Giles Redpath’s Lombard 46 Pata Negra in 2018.

Over half the entries will be racing double-handed. A record 17 teams in IRC Two-Handed will challenge for the Rebel Maid Trophy and the overall win. Sailors racing 2-handed come from Belgium, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Poland and the USA.

2 of Britain’s most accomplished sailors will race the Sun Fast 3300 Rockit: 6-time circumnavigator Dee Caffari is the most experienced sailor in this year’s edition. Dee’s partner for the race will be Cowes-based sailor Shirley Robertson; the first British woman to win an Olympic gold medal at consecutive games. Shirley will be taking part in her first Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race but achieved success racing 2-handed with Henry Bomby in Sun Fast 3300 Swell: Line Honours and 2nd overall in the 2021 Rolex Fastnet Race for IRC 2-handed.

A huge variety of boats will be competing in the race with a full complement of crew. The largest yacht in the race is Marie Tabarly’s famous French 73ft ketch Pen Duick VI, which was built for her father Eric Tabarly to compete in the first Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973. 50 years after Pen Duick VI was commissioned, Marie continues to sail Pen Duick VI with the boat logging over 300,000 miles.

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At the other end of the size scale, Stuart Greenfield will be racing his S&S 34 Morning After which leads the RORC Season for IRC Four by a huge margin. Morning After will be raced with Stuart’s regular Two-Handed crew, Louise Clayton, with the addition of RORC Admiral Mike Greville and Frederick Neville-Jones.

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