Fifty yachts have entered this year’s Shetland Round Britain & Ireland Race, sponsored by Shetland Islands Council, one of the largest fleets for many years.
Local interest will mainly centre on Lerwick businessman Leslie Irvine, who will be sailing the Streamline, sponsored by the company of the same name, with co-skipper Andrew Wood from Penzance.
The most senior competitor in the race will be Dutchman Nico Budel who will be sailing the brand new 40-foot sec.HAYAI, the very latest in Class 40 technology.
At the other end of the scale, 17-year-old Ned Mumford is the youngest competitor to take part. His extensive sailing background has allowed him special entry into the race. Ned is racing with his father, William, who has taken part in the race several times before.
The race has the support of many sailing greats including Robin Knox-Johnston; Steve Fosset and Pete Goss. It is a global event with competitors taking part this year from Britain, France, the Netherlands, Norway and Belgium.
Race regulars Jerry Freeman and Mary Falk will be joining forces to sail together in Mary’s sloop Q11 in a bid to raise money for the Institute of Cancer Research. The pair are no strangers to the race, having taken part five times before. Mary, a cancer survivor, has raised £85,000 for the Institute of Cancer Research over the last 20 years.
This is the second race to be sponsored by the SIC, viewed as an ideal sponsor due to its maritime links and history, as well as its 35 marinas. As one of the four compulsory stops, Lerwick will also be providing the sailors with a warm Shetland welcome.
The race will depart from Plymouth on 6th June and see the competitors sail 2,000 nautical miles around the UK coastline. The race has been hosted by the Royal Western Yacht Club every four years since 1966.
SIC business development manager Douglas Irvine said: “We are thrilled that 50 skippers will be competing in this year’s race. This is the maximum number of boats allowed, demonstrating that this one of the most popular races yet. This is certainly testament to the race itself which has been running for more than 40 years.
“Lerwick is our largest and most popular yachting port, surrounded by shops and restaurants. We will ensure every sailor receives a warm welcome as they berth. It is a tough race and I am sure they will welcome the break as they reach the halfway point.”
Leslie Irvine said this week that he and Mr Wood were hoping to raise money for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research during the event. Anyone interested in sponsoring them will shortly be able to donate online at www. vandaloceanracing.com