Sailor from Christian Malford hopes for better start

Neil Collings, left, with son Marcus, Sophie Starkie and Neil’s other son, Graeme

Neil Collings, left, with son Marcus, Sophie Starkie and Neil’s other son, Graeme

First published in News

A Sailor from Christian Malford will take part in one of the world’s largest yacht races, around the Isle of Wight.

Dinghy racer Neil Collings, 55, will be part of the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island race with his 24-year-old son, Graeme, and fiance Sophie . . . if they can find the start line.

Things did not go to plan in their bash at the 50-nautical mile race last year.

Mr Collings said: “We got to what we thought was the start line, only to hear the countdown over the radio and realise we were in completely the wrong place.

“We had thought it was odd that there didn’t seem to be many boats where we were.

“So we started some way behind the rest of the fleet.”

This time, on June 21, they have vowed to make amends.

“I’ve got a new boat and she’s already kitted out with a chart plotter and a tablet with a start line app, so we’re quietly confident we will at least get that right this year,” said Mr Collings, a retired engineer.

“We first did the race in 2012 and we’ve had a fantastic time each time we’ve done it. The atmosphere around the whole event is brilliant and we’re learning more about yachts every time.”

Round the Island attracts more than 1,700 boats and is the UK’s fourth largest participation sports event, after the London Marathon and the Great North and South Runs.

Enthusiastic amateurs race alongside big names including Britain’s most successful Olympic sailor, Sir Ben Ainslie, who will take part this year having smashed the record last year by going round in 2hrs 52mins.

Most boats will finish in between eight and ten hours.

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