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Team RAFBF Spitfire wins best in class at Round the Island race

Wing Commander Simon Ling leads Team RAFBF Spitfire who recently won best in their class in the famous Round the Island yacht race. Here Simon tells us all about it.

Team RAFBF Spitfire is a sailing team made up of serving and ex-serving RAF personnel. On Saturday 1 June, we entered our new J70 yacht in the Round the Island yacht race.

The race is the fourth largest participant sporting event in the UK with some 1400 yachts racing from Cowes all the way around the Isle of Wight before finishing back again in Cowes. The team have been long standing supporters of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund and fly the RAFBF logo on their sails and clothing.  

This year saw near perfect conditions for the race with sunshine and a northerly breeze of between 15-25 knots. We started our race at 5.20am and crossed the finish line 7 hours and 20 minutes later.

Wing Commander Simon Ling collects the Edward Heath Endeavour trophy

At the finish we guessed that we might have done quite well but to win our class by such a margin (15 minutes) was a wonderful surprise and we were all delighted.

We were awarded with the Edward Heath Endeavour trophy which was presented by sailing legend, Sir Robin Know Johnston.

All in all it was a great day on the water and a great opportunity to fly the flag for a charity that means so much to us.

"Our boat is brand new and had never participated in the race, so given the forecast we were very excited to be racing. The conditions for the race were just wonderful and allowed us to push the boat to the limit."

One of the highlights from the race for me was the spinnaker leg from the Needles to St Catherine's Point which was 80 minutes of pure fun and adrenalin with speeds approaching 20 knots – Spitfire literally took off and flew around the back of the Island. It was arguably the best sailing experience of my life.

Team RAFBF Spitfire will next compete at the J70 National Championships which will be hosted by the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes. You can follow the progress of the team throughout the year on Twitter at Simon Ling @RAFBF_Spitfire.

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