Sun up and sun down, with an awful lot of boats in between…

The J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race. When you look at it is a pretty mad event; over 1,500 boats racing anti-clockwise round the Isle of Wight. The weather has, in recent years not been very kind to the sailors and we have seen some pretty atrocious conitions, which considering it’s June, should be pretty benign.

So with an ultra early start this year at 5am, because of the tides, we had the pleasure of seeing the sun coming up over the Solent. Nothing unusual in this, we have seen our fair share of sunrises over the years as the official photographers for the title sponsors J.P. Morgan Asset Management, but this year WOW!!! What a sunrise and suddenly, on Saturday 1st of June the rather late British summer arrived and with it hopes of a new record of sailing round the Island.

The wind had filled in from the north east -very favourable for setting a new record -we just needed the right someone in the right boat to do that. Step up sailing legend (and with a word so very overused, ‘legend’ really does apply here), Sir Ben Ainslie, in his Americas Cup boat the BAR AC45.

Now if you don’t know much about sailing here’s two simple facts to put this into perspective: one of the greatest sailors (Ok maybe the greatest) to ever grace this planet and the sailing equivalent of a Formula 1 car. Throw in nigh on perfect meteorological and sea conditions and we could well be on for a new record here.

The only problem was, would Sir Ben actually sail? Having tragically lost one of his best friends, the charming Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson in a sailing accident in San Fransisico a couple of weeks previously and had attended the funeral just the day before the start of Round the Island, we were unsure of whether he would take part. But dawn broke and so did Ben and his BAR team, circling in the dawn glow, ahead of his 5.10am start, then BANG, the canon fired at the Royal Yacht Squadron and Sir Ben was away.

Watching him carve his way down the Western Solent, through the first starters some 10 minutes earlier, was a sight to behold. It was hard enough to keep up with him in £100K’s worth of high speed RIB -this man was on a mission!

I was still at the Needles shooting the fleet rounding when I heard that at 8.02am, they had broken the 12 year old record by almost 16 minutes to achieve a new sub 3 hour record of 2hrs, 52mins and 15 secs -a record I think will take some time to beat. Sir Ben dedicated the win to the memory of his lost friend.

So while Sir Ben was tucking into his breakfast, I still had another 12 housr of shooting to do. And you know what? I couldn’t have been happier; the JPMAM RTI is a unique event and is visually stunning. Throw in a new record, the fact that I was on the water for the sun coming up and the sun going down, chuck in lots and lots of boats in between- it was wonderful. Sometimes I bloody love my job…

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