Phil Duff goes close to prestigious race victory, but charity is the real winner

Phil Duff with Leigh McMillan, a two-time Olympic sailor.
Phil Duff with Leigh McMillan, a two-time Olympic sailor.

AFTER two of his crew were chucked overboard in 2010 when his yacht nosedived, Milton Keynes’ Phil Duff took to the waves last weekend at the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race to raise money for the men who came to their rescue.

A sudden and violent squall hit Duff’s yacht, One More Knot, when sailing in the eastern Solent, capsizing it as well as leaving two crew members in the water.

Once the yacht righted itself, Duff put out a MAYDAY call and wasted no time in hauling his friends back aboard, without either of them having sustained any serious injury.

The Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service (GAFIRS) came to their aid, and in recognition of their rapid response, Duff attempted to raise £250 for them at last weekend’s race.

“The GAFIRS lifeboat was on the scene in minutes which was very reassuring,” said Duff. “But we obviously wanted to get our friends back in the boat as quickly as possible so by the time the rescue boat had arrived they didn’t have to pick them out of the water.

“But I was very grateful to them for trying to rescue our men so this year we have tried to raise money for them. We’re going for £250, which isn’t that much, but it’s not bad.

“Our capsize was quite spectacular. We were thinking about a gybe but the weather closed in big time and the wind went from 15 to 45 knots in less than a minute.

“The nose went into the water and two of our guys were catapulted out of the boat. The mast head was in the water but we sorted ourselves out and then put out the MAYDAY which GAFIRS picked up.”

One More Knot was one of 1,647 entries at this year’s race including Olympic-bound Team GB sailors Hannah Mills, Saskia Clark and three-time Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie.

She finished Saturday’s 53-mile race in 15 hours and 53 minutes, coming second in her division leaving Duff pleased at the outcome.

“The Round the Island Race is fabulous and this is our big event of the year and we were really focused on our performance so to come second is nice,” Duff added.

“It was my 10th time competing here, but the first for charity so that was what it was really about. But we were only three minutes behind the winners so I’m a bit disappointed we didn’t win.”

The J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race is the 4th largest participation sport event in the UK. Organised by the Island Sailing Club, it is dubbed ‘Britain’s favourite yacht race’, attracting over 1,800 yachts and 16,000 competitors. www.roundtheisland.org.uk