Captain James knows haul about yachting
- Credit: Archant
James George was a nine-year-old schoolboy at Newport Free Grammar School when he was first taught to sail by his father.
Now the 38-year-old has captained the 40ft J122 racing yacht Jellyfish to victory in the non-stop, fortnight-long Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland race.
Twenty nine yachts set off from Cowes on August 11 at 9am, with James’ boat finishing first in the IRC Class Two at 2.52pm on August 22, seven miles ahead of the next yacht – the first chartered yacht to win in the history of the 2,067 mile race.
Eleven boats had to retire before the end, a testament to the difficulty of the contest – and Jellyfish had its hairy moments too.
As they sailed round Shetland, the crew had to combat Force 9-10 winds on the Beaufort scale and battle 30ft waves.
“We were sailing on the tail-end of Hurricane Bertha, and running into the back of another,” James, the skipper, said.
The Jellyfish crew found it was impossible to dock the boat in the gale-force conditions, and they rode out the storm for nine hours sailing in a square.
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“I was lucky that my dad had in interest in boats,” said James of his early love of sailing, adding that the headteacher at Newport Free Grammar at the time, Kenneth Hall, had organised a sailing club every Friday at the school which developed his love of the pursuit.
James now works in mergers and acquisitions, but he keeps his passions alive, playing the trumpet in several bands when not sailing the high seas.
The father-of-one has won the Rolex Middle Sea Race twice, but this is the first time he has competed in the Sevenstar race. Will he be taking part again?
His dad Dave, who lives in Henham, thinks James may now look to take a break from his life at sea to spend more time with his wife Lucy and six-year-old son.
Although his future competitive activity in the sailing arena may be unknown, what is clear is that son Harry will be learning the ropes from James, just as his father did before him, 29 years ago.
“I taught him to sail when he was nine, and he won his first yacht race when he was 12,” Dave said, who like his son is Yachtmaster qualified. “I’m very proud of what he’s achieved.”