The RaceThe course

Even if you've never seen or taken part in the race, the Round the Island Race course really couldn't really be much simpler!

The boats cross the start line at Cowes in eleven separate groups, starting (in 2017) every 10 minutes from 0530 until 0710 and heading in a westerly direction towards Yarmouth. The boats pass round the Needles Lighthouse, along the south-west coast of the Island to St. Catherine's Point and then up across Sandown Bay to round the Bembridge Ledge Buoy. The fleet then makes its way either side of No Man's Land Fort and across Osborne Bay to the finish line back at Cowes.

The map above shows the key points of the race. You can also look at the Table of Distances and, for spectators, find out the best vantage points to watch this spectacular race!

Table of distances

Location Distance nm Total distance nm
START
0
0
Hurst
10
10
Needles
3.3
13.3
St Catherines
12.8
26.1
Dunnose
5.3
31.4
Bembridge Ledge Buoy
7.1
38.5
Forts
3.9
42.4
FINISH
7.7
50.1

Observation points

Island vantage points Approx. times yachts will pass How to get there
COWES Start
COWES Finish
0530-0710
0930-2200
Via Ward Avenue, Baring Road & Castle Hill to the Parade and the Green either side of the Royal Yacht Squadron.
SCONCE POINT 0700-0930 From Yarmouth, drive towards Freshwater. Turn right after 1/2 mile and follow signs to Fort Victoria.
THE NEEDLES 0730-1000 From Freshwater or Totland follow signs to the Needles Car Park. Park and walk up West High Down to Needles Battery. Best view to south of Coast Guard Station.
CHILTON CHINE 0815-1130 Situated on the cliffs near Brighstone is Chilton Chine (accessible from the Military Road). It has a terrific view of the boats as they sail by.
ST. CATHERINE'S POINT 0900-1300 From Freshwater, Rookley or Ventnor go to Niton. Take loop road to Buddle Inn. Park and walk down cliffs by lighthouse.
VENTNOR 0915-1330 Park on Cliff at West End of Esplanade.
BONCHURCH 0930-1400 Take lane down to sea opposite Bonchurch pond. Take left turn and park in car park at bottom, which is best view.
CULVER DOWN 1000-1530 From Brading, take Bembridge road. After 1 mile, turn right and follow sign for Culver (on a bend, and lane hairpins up!)
RYDE PIER 1100-1700 From Ryde Esplanade, drive up pier and park at end. Parking for 1 hour.

Mainland vantage points

HURST POINT 0700-1000 From Lymington drive to Milford on Sea, take road to Keyhaven, but turn right towards Hurst beach after half a mile. Park at end and walk up Hurst Spit to Hurst Castle.
GILKICKER POINT 1100-1700 From Gosport drive through Alverstoke towards golf course. Take road through golf course to Gilkicker Point and Fort.