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Ben Fogle takes centre stage at today's press conference, surrounded by some of tomorrow's other competitors who were interviewed on stage today by Alec Wilkinson (right). Photo: Paul Wyeth/

Numerous highlights in Round the Island Race pre-race press conference at the Island Sailing Club

Author: Peta Stuart-Hunt   Date: 17:00 Friday 30 Jun 2017

The Island Sailing Club (ISC), organisers of the annual Round the Island Race in association with Cloudy Bay put on a well-attended pre-Race press conference in Cowes this afternoon. With the MC and presenter Alec Wilkinson fresh back from reporting on the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda neatly guiding proceedings, an audience of media, competitors, sponsors and ISC Flag Officers enjoyed his interviews with the interesting mix of stage guests.

ISC Commodore Mark Wynter welcomed everyone and Julie Nollet, Marketing Director, Moet Hennessy UK, acknowledged her pleasure in Cloudy Bay coming on board as the Presenting Sponsor for the first time this year. Three teenagers from Lymington in Hampshire, Vita Heathcote and twins Charlotte and Milly Boyle, are members of the British Youth Sailing Team and more used to sailing 420s but tomorrow they will be enjoying the challenge of racing on RITA, a J/70.

Most of us enjoy a bit of adventure, and especially watching others achieve extraordinary feats of endurance in remote parts of the world, more often than not shared with armchair followers in incredible HD on our TV screens. Today the audience were fortunate to be able to get up close with two of Great Britain’s most intrepid adventurers.

Neil McGrigor is the man who discovered the source of the Nile in Rwanda in 2005 under horrendous conditions and has several other high profile expeditions under his belt – usually in a rigid inflatable boat.

Tomorrow he races his J/109 BOO, a 35ft cruiser/racer with nine members of his family on board aged from 16 years up. “There are nine of us and we haven’t all sailed together before and most of the crew have never done a race before let alone the RTI.  It’s a great opportunity to get the family out together as they mostly believe that it’s all too high powered for the less experienced and generally shy away. We all know that’s not the case and it truly is a #raceforall and they will find out for themselves tomorrow. We’re really looking forward to it.”

Everyone then enjoyed the company of Cloudy Bay Brand Ambassador Ben Fogle who will race tomorrow on the Farr 52 Bob by Cloudy Bay.

I went to University in Portsmouth so I spent so much of my time there on the water enjoying the Solent and coming to Cowes. I just love Cowes and the yachting community of the Solent. I really feel at home here and it is such a special place for me. With everything that’s going on in the world, it’s great to just enjoy something magical like being on the water and competing in the Round the Island Race," commented Ben.

Frank Fletcher, CEO of the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, the official Race charity explained how much the Trust has benefited from its involvement over the past few years and announced that four boats with 24 young people recovering from cancer will be on board tomorrow. Frank also reminded everyone that they can support the Trust by texting RTIR17 to 70070 with the amount you want to give!

Last but not least the Meteorologist Simon Rowell, weather guru to the British Sailing Team and for tomorrow’s race delighted everyone by confirming that it would definitely be a spinnaker day – always great for the photographers – but the start may see a few showers coming through. The wind in the afternoon is predicted to go light and shifty from the West. So all in all, expectations are high for another great race.