david v goliath

This year’s Round the Island Race, the 83rd competition for the Gold Roman Bowl, round the Isle of Wight with over a thousand entries taking to the water proved you don’t always need to spend a fortune to win the biggest prize, not by a long chalk. (Various Alacritys are available at around GBP1,000 on the internet)

The Alacrity 18 bilge keel yacht ‘Eeyore’, smaller than some of the media RIBs following the event, plodded on in conditions that varied from around 20knots of breeze to zephyrs meaning reading the tides would clearly be important but it all counts.

With one of the lowest IRC Ratings in the fleet at 0.771 and an elapsed time of 13 hours 36 minutes certainly proved that if you sail your boat closer to her numbers given the prevailing conditions victory is always a possibility even though not giving up meant a finish after 10 o’clock at night (thank goodness for patient race officials). In fact the challenging conditions meant that there were an unusually large large number of retirements in this year’s race, for example in Eeyore’s class, 40 starters saw only 7 finishers.

Now while that low IRC may seem to give a large advantage to so small a yacht, it should be considered she rated the same as a Contessa 26, a design 8 feet longer which has also in the past proven to be, at times very competitive in this event.

It did help of course that she was skippered by Jo Richards who has been round the island so many times it might make him dizzy while recording 2nd overall on two previous occasions but never the big one, the Gold Roman Bowl. As result of some smart tactical decisions and clearly playing the conditions better than any other competitor this little yacht, better known as a family weekender from the 1960’s and 70’s completed the course in 

This is not the first time the RTIR (as it is often written) has seen smaller yachts coming high up the standings with Folkboats, Contessa 26s and Quarter Tonners often showing high up the results list in years gone by but I cannot remember a yacht quite this small trumping those larger, more expensive yachts that completed the course in faster times. In fact I rather think I would not be sticking my neck out too far if I stated that Jethou – which took line honours- spent more on their mainsail than the total cost of the little giant killing Eeyore. – SS.