Emma Reports Back on the Round the Island Challenge

Wednesday, July 02nd, 2008

What do you get if you take a group of country-minded people and throw them together on a 67ft yacht in the world’s largest and most famous yachting race?

The answer is a fantastic bunch of down-to-earth people who all got on instantly and who got really stuck into the challenge ahead.

Race map

The JPMorgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, took place on the 28th June 2008 in Cowes, Isle of Wight, England. The 50-mile course around the Isle of Wight sees some of the biggest names in the sailing world competing with weekend sailors and the ‘Muddy Team’!

Skippered by Stuart Jackson, with Mate Jen Dixon 12 Degrees Ltd, the Muddy boat – ‘Aurora of London’ – did extremely well, circumnavigating the Isle of Wight in 8 hours 17 mins and 42 seconds and coming 545th out of over 1,600 boats that finished.

The team were picked at random by us as we had such a big response to the email we send out about the race. The 12 lucky members arrived on the boat on Friday morning for a day’s training as many people had never sailed before.

All onboard

Very quickly everyone was assigned jobs and it wasn’t long before we were motoring out of the marina. We ventured out of Southampton towards Cowes and spent the day getting to know each other as well as learning to gybe and tack!

Learning the ropes
Getting stuck in

Friday night was not a late one as we had to be up at 3.30 am to get to the starting line at 6am.

Working hard at 3.30am in preparation for the race

It all got very exciting when the countdown to the race started, we were in IRC class 0 with the elite and everyone had to keep their wits about them to avoid a collision.

Closest I have ever got to Lewis Hamilton!

It was Lewis Hamilton’s first ever sailing race on the Open 60 Hugo Boss. Unfortunately for the team, despite completing the race, they were disqualified for an incident at the start which left one boat without a mast.

One of the 4 other boats similar to the ‘Aurora of London’ Challenge 67

It was our mission to beat these, in the end we beat 2 and just lost to 2 of them – not bad for an inexperienced team!

Ellen MacArthur onboard the Extreme 40 BT which later retired half a mile short of Hurst Narrows due to a broken main halyard.

The race was fantastic; such an experience. Everybody pulled together really well and in between gybing and tacking there was a lot of hilarity! As you can imagine there were a lot of stories to be regaled about dating!

We survived without too many incidents but the Race Control reported the incidents break down as follows – out of 18,000 people taking part in 1875 boats entered:

  • 4 boats were dismasted
  • 5 boats were damaged and needed a tow
  • 1 boat sank
  • 1 boat upturned / capsized
  • 11 Man Overboards
  • 5 injuries including one person lifted off by helicopter to Southampton General with a head injury – we understand this person is now out of danger
  • 5 boats grounded

Once we had moored up for the night we went into Cowes for a few hours to celebrate. Cowes was heaving and had a fantastic post-race atmosphere.


A massive thank you to Stu and Jen who were marvellous throughout the whole weekend, and to Kurt who joined us for the race.

Jen (left) and Stu (right)

Also a big thank you to Mad Cowes who sponsored our shirts. If you would like to order from the Mad Cowes website www.madcowes.co.uk you can get £5 off by emailing lucy.ward@madcowes.co.uk and mentioning Muddy Matches.  Offer ends 1st August 2008.


Incidentally one of the members onboard was the lonely Cambridgeshire farmer looking for love on the Alan Titchmarsh Show in February; Charles first heard about Muddy Matches from Tracey Cox on the show, take a look!! His best quote of the weekend was an hour and half into the race he asked what time were we starting!