All you need to know about Britain’s favourite yacht race
Attracting on average 15,000 sailors and 1,400 boats, the Round the Island Race organised by the Island Sailing Club is the fourth largest participation sporting event in the UK behind the London Marathon, Great North, and South runs.
Competitors from around the world race around the Isle of Wight, covering 50 nautical miles starting from the famous Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes. Racers loop around The Needles, St Catherine’s Point and Bembridge Ledge buoy on their way back into the Solent and the finish line at Cowes.
The first Round the Island Race took place in 1931 with 25 entries after Major Cyril Windeler suggested a handicap race which could cater for smaller boats – a quiet joke at the expense of the Royal Yacht Squadron who had stated that their members must own a yacht of at least 30 tons! The record number of entries was set in 2008 with 1,875 and the course record was set by Lloyd Thornburg’s Phaedo^3 in a time of 2 hours 22 minutes and 23 seconds on Concise 10 in 2017.
There are almost 200 prizes available over the course of the weekend for boats of every shape and size, with individual and team trophies on the line including the main prize – the Gold Roman Bowl. The race is a unique opportunity to watch amateur sailors go up against the professionals (including Dame Ellen MacArthur!) and has seen Olympians such as Ben Ainsely come out victorious. The event is also set to raise thousands for the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.
Online services such as WeatherFile provide competitors with live data on a range of parameters such as wind speed and direction, temperature, precipitation, and pressure so that they can manoeuvre the course appropriately. With perfectly placed weather stations at Hurst Castle , Yarmouth Pier, Lymington Starting Platform, and Stokes Bay Sailing Club, racers can fine tune their strategy with ease. There will also be a weather briefing at 5pm on Friday by meteorologist Simon Rowell.
The racing begins at 8am on the 25th of June. Entries remain open until June 22nd. For tips on viewing and more information, visit www.roundtheisland.org.uk.
Good luck to all competing!