Leopard wins first outing

YACHTING NEWS

MIKE SLADES'S new supermaxi yacht ICAP Leopard took monohull line honours in the JP Morgan Round the Island Race in Britain.

Completing the 55 mile course in just 4 hours 23 minutes and 5 seconds, the new supermaxi was only a matter of minutes from breaking the Round the Island Race record, set by Slade's previous boat, Leopard of London in 2001.

Starting the annual dash around the island just after dawn,  Leopard's crew of America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race legends sailed an almost faultless race.

First boat to the Needles, she blasted round the south side of the island to St Catherine's point before beating back
upwind through the Solent to the finish line off Cowes.

Having recently arrived in the UK after being built at McConaghy Boats, Australia, the crew of 28 plus eight guests pushed the boat hard in around 14 knots of breeze, heading a fleet of 1,799 boats.

Owner Mike Slade commented: “We are absolutely thrilled the with the new Leopard. She feels fantastic, really well balanced, and for a brand new boat straight out of the box, she performed absolutely superbly today. St Catherine's point is always tricky, but we had a cracking sail round the back of the island to Bembridge with the kite up all the way
from the Needles.

“With today's wind direction we had a lot of tacking up the Solent to do which slows you down, so sadly we didn't quite beat the record, but we're not disappointed at all – and there's always next year!”

Like her predecessors the Farr-designed super maxi is aimed towards the charter market as well as winning races and making record attempts. With her removable interior, she can be transformed from racing machine to the ultimate in luxury sailing yachts.

Leopard is set to compete in a number of high-profile races and regattas all over the world this year. These include Skandia Cowes Week, the Rolex Fastnet Race, the Middle Sea Race and the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.

The team running Leopard is also considering the possibility of an attempt in late 2008 on the world's most sought after sailing record: non-stop around the world in under 80 days.

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