RUTLAND sailors Anthony Chapman and Mark Law enjoyed the experience of a lifetime, pitting their wits against triple Olympic champion Ben Ainslie at the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race.
Chapman, a 25-year-old former Bourne Grammar School pupil, skippered Energia, crewed by Law and a team of past and present instructors at Rutland Watersports, around the Isle of Wight course.
Chapman and Law were joined by more than 1,900 boats and 16,000 competitors, including Great Britain racer Helena Lucas, contesting the 55-mile circuit on the 80th anniversary of the race – making it the fourth largest participation event in the UK.
And after sharing the Solent with the best in the business, Chapman admitted it was a world away from his past experience as a champion dinghy sailor.
“I’ve got a lot of sailing experience but I had never competed in a race that lasted longer than two hours so we knew it would be far tougher,” said Chapman.
“It was a massive event and the first time we had that many boats around us so we knew we needed to keep our wits about us.
“It’s nice to be put in the same competitions as the likes of Ben Ainslie and the other great sailors, but we just tried not to cause them any problems.”
Lionel Lemonchois helmed trimaran Prince de Bretagne to line honours, and two-time Olympic silver medallist Nick Rogers claimed the Gold Roman Bowl in Sundowner.
After coming home 91st overall former Uppingham Community College student Law admitted his experience had left him wanting more.
He said: “It was great to be at such a big event and see the scale of it and how many boats were there on the start. It was a great experience to be part of it.”
The JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race is the fourth largest participation sporting event in the UK. Organised by the Island Sailing Club, it is dubbed “Britain’s favourite yacht race”. For more information visit www.roundtheisland.org.uk.