Charlotte’s race round the island

Charlotte Butterworth from the Ellen MacArthur Trust at the the start of the JP Morgan Asset Managem

Charlotte Butterworth from the Ellen MacArthur Trust at the the start of the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race 2014. - Credit: onEdition

A Royston teenager who battled cancer fulfilled a long-term ambition when she took to the waves for the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race on Saturday.

Charlotte Butterworth was just six when she was given the unwelcome news she had a sarcoma in her cheek.

But after battling the disease, the now 17-year-old was presented with a much more welcome challenge this weekend when she joined 16,000 competitors across 1,584 boats to contest the 83rd edition of the 50-nautical mile circuit around the Isle of Wight.

The opportunity came about through her association with the Dame Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust - the race’s official charity which was set up by the retired round-the-world sailor to give young people the chance to rebuild their confidence through sailing.

Charlotte, a pupil at Hills Road Sixth Form college, had sailed with the Trust before but never in the race and after finally making her debut - albeit in weather conditions which made sailing rather difficult due to lack of wind - she could not hide her delight.

“I was really excited before the race, I’ve done five trips with them before and I’d always wanted to do this race but it clashed with my GCSEs last year,” she said.

“There were so many people at the start line, lots of boats racing competitively and it was really fun.

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“We were quite competitive as a trust with our different boats and all wanted to beat each other.

“My dad used to have a small boat but I hadn’t really been on a big boat before all this so it’s really fun.

“With the trust, everyone has been through a serious situation but they are able to support each other.”

With wind at a minimum, racing was well off the record pace set by Sir Ben Ainslie in 2013 with line honours this time round going to Pete Cumming aboard GC32 Team Richard Mille in 8hrs 51mins 37secs.

And while it was an even longer day out on the water for Charlotte, there was still much fun to be had with her crewmates and Dame Ellen MacArthur also joining in on the action.

“This is a really special race, there are thousands of people and thousands of boats out on the water,” said the former solo long-distance yachtswoman.

“We had five boats out from the Trust with 24 young people going around the island. It was about being out there and having fun and they did a really good job.”

The J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race is one of the largest participation sporting events in the UK and the largest yacht race of its kind in the world. Organised by the Island Sailing Club in Cowes, it is dubbed ‘Britain’s favourite yacht race’, regularly attracting around 1,500 boats and 16,000 competitors