A Hemel Hempstead teenager proved having a knee replacement was no barrier as he took to the seas for the JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race.
James Wigg was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a cancer of the bone, in his leg shortly before Christmas 2010, undergoing intensive treatment which included having a metal knee inserted.
Two years ago he joined the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, learning to sail before taking part in last year’s record-breaking race around the Isle of Wight.
Having enjoyed it so much, the 16-year-old former John F Kennedy Catholic School pupil was back for more of the same on Saturday, joining 16,000 competitors across 1,584 boats contesting the 50 nautical mile circuit.
And while the lack of winds meant a slower pace for the 83rd edition of the mass participation event, James still savoured the experience.
“This is my third year with the trust, I started with the four-day trip and then did the Island race last year,” he said.
“As soon as I finished my treatment I wanted to join the trust and take part.
“I could never have imagined doing something like this. I was really weak and fragile and now I’ve got a lot stronger.
“It was hard work but really fun. It was quite competitive between everyone. The sunrise especially was amazing and such a good sight.
“It’s really fun sailing. You have to get on with everyone, but you are part of a team.”
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 James, there was still much fun to be had with the crew-mates and Dame Ellen MacArthur also joining in on the action.
“This is a really special race, there are thousands of people out on the water, there are 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 JP 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.
For further information, please visit www.roundtheisland.org.uk