The Big Cat

on board

The Big Cat

With a 150′ high cathedral rig, ICAP Leopard was pretty easy to find in Ocean Village, Southampton. It was 0530 in the morning and boat captain Chris Sherlock was at battle stations and we were heading for a real combat zone, preparing the 100ft Farr designed ICAP Leopard for the JP Morgan Round the Island race.

There were 1779 entrants, many of which do little racing and trying to steer a boat of this size through the myriad of cruising boats was like trying to drive the wrong way up a one way street in rush hour. Sherlock was not slow in offering several boats advice on the best method of staying alive but a lot of the spectator boats were like rabbits in the headlights, as we swerved through the fleet.

We got a clean start and pretty soon we were fully arced up under full main and Masthead No.1. Effortlessly achieving ten knots of boat speed in just a light breeze, ICAP Leopard was soon far away from the traffic and bound for The Needles, the first corner of the 50 mile race.

Paul Stanbridge was crew boss and he is a guy who has earned respect for his authority; bossing boats from the first Whitbread 60s to the latest Cup with Shosholoza. A great communicator with a manner of the best teacher you ever had in class. You wouldn’t mess with Paul Stanbridge on a boat.