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88th Round the Island Race

‘Actual Leader’, the grand prix racing maxi trimaran sailed by French professional skipper Yves Le Blevec and his seasoned team took line honours at the 88th edition of the Round the Island Race today with an overall time of 7hrs, 33mins, 36secs.

Although no records were broken this year, Le Blevec and team provided a fantastic spectacle for the crowds of spectators as she glided across the finish line this afternoon.

A delighted Le Blevec (53) from La Trinite Sur Mer, commenting on a long, but exciting day on the racecourse just before he set sail back to La Trinite Sur Mer tonight said:Line honours for Actual Leader in the Round the Island Race 2019 © Tom McCullagh

“I really enjoyed the race, I always enjoy sailing here and it was great to have taken line honours. This is now my fourth time competing here but in this boat it was tricky. We stayed in the same place for two or three hours off Ventnor in no wind, which was frustrating. ‘Actual’ is designed as a round the world boat not for Round the Island Race. It is very difficult to manage tacking or gybing so often, so we are pleased to have done so well today.”

Elsewhere the fleet is progressing well in the light to moderate breeze although the wind is expected to ease and veer round to the south by 1700. Simon Rowell – British Sailing team and Round the Island Race meteorologist – correct in his predictions said. “Once the wind starts go round it will become even more patchy before filling in from due west between 1900/2000 tonight.”

This should give those yet to finish a decent beat up the Eastern Solent but before then however, those who sailed well inshore into patchy winds off Ventnor are struggling to make up lost time.

The view from Hurst Castle during the Round the Island Race 2019 - photo © Mark Jardine
The view from Hurst Castle during the Round the Island Race 2019 – photo © Mark Jardine

Sir Peter Ogden’s Judel Vrolijk Mini Maxi ‘Jethou’ who almost snatched the lead from ‘Actual Leader’ earlier today is still battling for monohull line honours against the likes of James Neville’s Hakes HH42 ‘INO XXX’ and David Collins’ Botin IRC 52 ‘Tala’.

The Oyster 82 ‘Starry Nights’ is also among the next leading bunch off Sandown Bay but they appear to be making good pace with the pro international mixed team representing Venezuela, Antigua, Spain, France, Ireland, and the UK calling the shots. Justin Eplett’s prediction of being a long day on the water was spot on but if they continue making good pace away from the tricky conditions inshore, they should finish in a respectable position.

Heading away from the Island where the wind is more stable seems to be the best option. Rowell added “Basically there’s a big bubble of hot air above the island, which is affecting the wind, so those going too far inshore will suffer most.”

To follow the race in detail, go to Race Coverage Live and the Race Tracker.

by Sue Pelling

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