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Photo: George Mills Photography

And they're off!

Author: Island Sailing Club   Date: 11:05 Saturday 7 Jul 2018

As early morning haze gave way to sunshine, the 1,204 teams signed up for the 2018 Round the Island Race flocked to the start area off the Royal Yacht Squadron line (RYS).

Dame Ellen MacArthur was on the RYS platform to fire the cannon that signaled the first start at 0630, and in a gentle breeze of 4-6kts, the 11 groups - ranging from the super-fast racing machines including Tony Lawson’s record-breaking MOD70 foiling trimaran Concise Fling, to the J/24 Team Impact crewed by a group of under 25 year olds team from Parkstone YC, Poole - gently made their way across the start line.

Getting a good start in the mass fleets in the light fickle winds and strong ebbing tide, however, was a tricky affair, but thankfully the wind held as the starts progressed to allow teams to engage in a good tactical first leg along the Western Solent towards the Needles.

The early leaders on the track included Igor Yakunin’s Ker 46 Lady Mariposa and Tony Langley’s TP52 Gladiator, but it didn’t take long for Concise Fling to take her ‘default’ position at the head of the fleet as they passed Yarmouth.

The chance of Concise Fling bettering the Multihull race record it achieved last year with a time of 2h 22m 23s, is not at all likely but jubilant skipper Ned Collier Wakefield before he headed to the start said he was extremely excited to be competing in this race once again: "This is our home, we are based on the Hamble, we train on the Solent all the time and we’ve rounded the Island multiple times, so yes, this is our home playground, and we love it.

“I think our aim today is to break the record for the slowest ever boat to win line honours. Not sure it is official but we’ll be going for it anyway.”

Although the forecast sea breeze is likely to arrive at approximately 1100 from the south-south-west, Concise Fling should have completed the race by then because they are aiming to cross the finish line off the RYS in four and a half hours. For the slower boats however, the sea breeze will be a welcome relief to help their progress in the heat of the day on the 50 nm course around the island.

To follow the race in detail, go to Race Coverage Live and the Race Tracker.

Records to beat:

  • Monohull course record: 3h 43m 50s – supermaxi, ICAP Leopard (Mike Slade) set in 2013
  • Multihull course record: 2h 22m 23s – MOD70, Team Concise 10 (Ned Collier Wakefield) set in 2017

Race partners: Cloudy Bay, Raymarine, Helly Hansen, MS Amlin, Chelsea Magazines

Event charity: Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust