Mother's fight against cancer inspires Ilkley family's yachting charity challenge

)Serena Barker, Christopher Barker, Sir Ben Ainslie, Annabel Barker and Zoe Barker.

)Serena Barker, Christopher Barker, Sir Ben Ainslie, Annabel Barker and Zoe Barker.

First published in Local news
Last updated

A BUSINESSMAN from Ilkley has completed his seventh major annual yachting race after being inspired by his wife's heroic fight against breast cancer.

Christopher Barker, along with wife, Zoe, and their two children, Annabelle and Serena, recently took part in the 2014 JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, sailing around the Isle of Wight.

The Barkers are no strangers to the seas, and have been sailing as a family for several years. Mr Barker decided to raise money for good causes by competing in the race.

The race is 50 nautical miles - or 93 kilometres - long, and more than a thousand boats regularly take part.

The first time Mr Barker competed was back in 2007 and he has made sure that he has returned every year since.

This year’s race saw thousands of competitors competing against big names such as four-time Olympic champion Sir Ben Ainslie, and Dame Ellen MacArthur.

But for Mr Barker, 46, and his family, it was all about being able to spend time together as a family and raise money for good causes.

“Seven or eight years ago my wife Zoe had a diagnosis of breast cancer and she went through a lot,” said Mr Barker.

“She’s been truly heroic since so that was an emotive year and we did a lot of different things and of those mad things that we did was the Round the Island Race and we said we’ll raise whatever we can.

“So we did quite well as a charity event and that was our first one in 2007 and we’ve returned every year since and Zoe came a few years later when she was in good health.

“So we’ve been doing it as a family for years now and the young girls are old enough to do it with us.

“The excitement is incredible and we make a big family weekend of it and it’s great to have come back this year.”

It is the second time the whole family has had the chance to compete in the event and Mr Barker says they plan to take part in more in future.

“To have so many boats on the start line is amazing because it’s 20 times you’d expect usually.," Mr Barker added.

“That creates some really great close-quarter situations and teamwork situations and it is so variable. It’s an event we will continue to do for years to come.”

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.

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