Why has the Knox-Johnston Cup been created?
Over the years, yacht racing has become far more serious than it ever used to be. Fewer people are being attracted to the sport, and what we want to do is put some joy back into racing as a team. No matter what level of sailor you are, people can join this race with no sailing experience as a practical introduction to the yachts will be given on the first day,
By introducing the Knox-Johnston Cup, we are returning to the great days of yacht racing, where après-racing socialising went hand-in-hand with highly competitive racing. The importance of the social side of yacht racing shouldn’t be underestimated, it plays a significant role in attracting people to the sport, as well as forging friendships and connections.
Why do you think the Knox-Johnston cup will be a success?
Simple, a weekend on the water: with a day for training and a day for a tactical and highly competitive race. Anyone can enter. This is sociable, fun, with people connecting and having a good time combined with the thrill of big boat racing. What’s not to like?
What is the route and how would you describe it for those who’ve not sailed it before?
The Isle of Wight is built to be sailed around! You’re getting a circular route in a day so you’ll get every aspect of sailing in a day – it’s quick, short, competitive and a good laugh!
What about the route stands out and makes it unique/gives it character?
A big feature is the tides – they will come into play and will influence the entire race, especially as teams head to The Needles and then down to St Catherines- a lovely amount of variety.
We have the Clipper 68s and the Clipper 70s out on the water, does either have an advantage?
Both fleets have their different advantages; the Clipper 68 is quicker to windward and you get better offwind performance on a Clipper 70. It should balance out by the time you get around the island, however it will ultimately come down to the conditions on the day and the team on board.
What makes the Knox-Johnston Cup different to the traditional Round the Island Race?
The added Clipper Race features such as the Scoring Gate and the lucrative Joker Card. It adds to the excitement of the day, you have to think tactically – chances are a Scoring Gate might be harder to get to, but there will be the chance of extra race points.
Are there any particular parts of the race that you are most excited to watch play out?
The best part will be watching the teams all come together.
Will it come down to each individual team’s tactics on the day?
As we all know, these are big yachts, and they take a team to make them sail well. So I think the most important aspect of the race will be the Skipper and professional sailing staff getting the crew to work together.
Will local knowledge be an advantage?
Local knowledge could be an advantage – but a good Skipper will pick it up pretty quickly. They know how to research the tides and then it’s generally just getting your boat in the best place accordingly.
How can companies and organisations benefit from an event like this?
You need to look at team spirit in any organisation – fun team events that encourage you to work together and communicate, share an experience and connect out of the office. They’ll have a blast – working together and internal networking – which can shortcut decision making in the office.
How important is it that we open access to an increasing portfolio of iconic races?
Big boat racing circuits are time heavy, intense, and expensive. We want to remove the barriers and bring more people back into sailing or introduce them to the sport.
Yacht racing can sometimes be too serious and intimidating. Yes, you’re focused on the boat, it can get very competitive but the moment you dock it should be fun, social and a good time. We want more people to experience that.
What is Clipper Events and the Knox-Johnston cup doing for the sailing industry?
I think it’s all about accessibility and creating more opportunity. This event has a two fold objective, firstly giving people who may never have sailed before the opportunity to try it out in a safe, social but dynamic environment. But also a new event for the existing sailing community. Something fresh and exciting with tactical challenges on ocean racing yachts.
We are all consciously trying to reduce our impact on the environment and our surroundings. How have you worked this into this event?
Most of our resources already exist, we use our yachts regularly and effectively so they are low impact. We use local suppliers where possible; our life jackets are made by Spinlock on the Isle of Wight in fact. Our catering uses locally sourced ingredients and no single-use plastics. We’re based somewhere with good public transport links. All these small steps combined make progress. We feel that progress is sometimes better than perfection.
At the heart of this event is bringing people together in the spirit of Clipper Race. Why do you think it’s important to do so?
We’re going back to the great days of racing where there was socialising alongside racing – you all meet up after a day of racing and mix with the other crew, meeting new people – I still meet some of these people 60 years on! It’s bringing back the human side of sailing, it’s a social activity but it’s got more serious over the years. A common theme across the industry is looking to attract more people and a diverse mix of people, so this event is to be welcoming and accessible to more people, as like the Clipper Race, no experience is necessary. We are proud to have had over 5000 people from all walks of life cross an ocean with the Clipper Race and want to continue to encourage people to get into the sport.