Tom saw action of a very different kind last weekend when he took part in the 2008 Round The Island Race, one of the worlds biggest yacht races, around the Isle of Wight. Along with fellow BTCC stars Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden, Tom helped bring the 50 ft yacht home in 2nd place………
Nearly 2000 crews, split into classes, took part in the 55-mile race, also contested by the likes of Formula 1 hero Lewis Hamilton and world record-breaking sailor Dame Ellen MacArthur.
The three BTCC stars swapped their nomex race suits for Helly Hanson yachting gear and were amongst the crew of the Capricorno, overseen by title-winning skipper John Tidlesley.
On Friday the intrepid trio had also taken to the waves for a practice run with MacArthur, treble Olympic gold medalist Ben Ainslie and double Olympic medalist Shirley Robertson.
The race on Saturday was full of incident: one boat sank, another overturned and capsized, four suffered broken masts, five were grounded and another five needed towing back to shore. Eleven crew also fell overboard.
Tom, Matt and Gordon managed to avoid such dangers and after seven hours of choppy waters the BTCC crew were on the crest of a wave as they crossed the finish line in the runners-up spot.
Tom had enjoyed the experience immensely and back on dry land tried to explain his feelings during the race;
“It was amazing. One of the best experiences I’ve ever had. The combination of fear and excitement is just incredible. To be able not just to take part, but to be doing it with the caliber of sailors that we have been with this weekend is a real privilege. I don’t think we let them down, we finished 2nd in our class which is pleasing. I did feel close to being sea-sick at times, the waves were throwing us around a lot, but you just hang on and concentrate on the job. I want to thank everybody who made this possible for me and I would jump at the chance to do it again.”
It’s back to nomex and the familiar competition of the BTCC next weekend for Tom, Matt and Gordon. The championship moves to Snetterton in Norfolk with the three races taking place on Sunday 13th July. Snetterton has been one of Tom’s most successful circuits over the years and he will be hoping to come away with three good results for him and Team HalfordsClick here for the Tom Chilton web site - designed and built by Racecar