Hampshire & Isle of Wight

'Eco-yacht' in Round the Island Race

Image caption The boat will race for the top prize with 1,700 other vessels

A "greener" yacht crewed by three generations of the same family is taking part in the 80th Round the Island Race.

Built in Lymington, Hampshire, Calypso is believed to be the first with a hybrid diesel and electric engine.

The yacht has been coated in non-toxic fouling solution and has a sustainable wood deck and solar panels.

It will be helmed by 73-year-old Jeremy Rogers and crewed by his three sons and two 10-year-old grandchildren.

The 32ft (9.75m) boat has been built and designed as a family sailing boat with greener materials by former Yachtsman of the Year Jeremy Rogers, his son Kit and daughter-in-law Jessie.

Jessie and Kit Rogers previously worked in whale and dolphin conservation and assisted with the filming of The Blue Planet for three years.

'Built to last'

Jessie Rogers said: "Calypso is a fibreglass boat, but she's built to last. The idea was that we would show that you could do things a little bit differently with no compromise.

"I felt really uncomfortable about using unsustainable teak, a quality teak tree is perhaps 200 years old, that's clearly not possible to replant and harvest.

"We found Kebony, a maple which is treated turning it into wood that is harder than teak but has the same qualities."

The boat also features a unique, virtually silent and non-polluting hybrid engine made by an Isle of Wight company. When the boat is under sail, the propeller can be put into reverse to generate electricity.

Mrs Rogers said: "One of the biggest environmental problems with boats is the anti-foul which leaches copper into the sea."

The yacht has been coated underneath in a non-toxic product which is currently only used on merchant ships.

"We're the first yacht to have it on the bottom. It's amazing, slimy stuff - at 7 knots all the barnacles and weed falls off."

Calypso will race with 1,700 other vessels on the 50-nautical mile course around the Isle of Wight.

Coveted trophy

The family have already made island race history. In 2006 Mr Rogers' Contessa 26 yacht, Rosina of Beaulieu, became the only boat to win the top prize, the Gold Roman Bowl, three times.

The race which was first held in 1931 with 25 boats, has a special handicap system meaning any boat, from cruiser to maxi yacht can win.

Jeremy Rogers said: "It's just about as exciting as a day's yacht racing can be." The Rogers' will be raising money for their local hospice, Oakhaven in Lymington .

The race is the fourth largest participation sporting event in the UK after the London Marathon and the Great North and South Runs. The record entry stands at 1,875 boats in 2008.

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