JOHN STOKER will be gunning for Gloucestershire bragging rights when he makes his J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race debut this year.

Stoker, from Bourton-on-the-Hill, will be among some 16,000 sailors set to tackle the famous 50 nautical mile course around the Isle of Wight, on Saturday, June 21.

Enthusiastic amateurs like John are able to race alongside big names of the sport including America’s Cup hero and Britain’s most successful Olympic sailor, Sir Ben Ainslie, who will again take part in this year’s race as well as presenting the prizes.

Now in its 83rd year, the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race regularly attracts more than 1,700 boats. It is the UK’s fourth largest participation sports event after the London Marathon and the Great North and South Runs.

However, John only has eyes on the race-within-a-race as he and his five-strong crew aboard Sidney II tackle old Gloucestershire friend Neil Lawrence and his rival boat, Sail Funk.

John said: “The competition with Sail Funk will be fierce. Neil, or Captain Lawrence as we call him, now lives on the Isle of Wight.

“We’ve got two cut-class crystal vases as prizes – one for first over the line, and one for the winner on handicap – and the most important part, a 50p wager."

The race starts at 6.30am on the famous Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes and the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust – set up by the history-making round the world yachtswoman – is again the official race charity for 2014.