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Picture: Paul Wyeth

Countdown to the Round the Island Race

Author: Jo Bowden   Date: 17:26 Thursday 1 Jul 2021

On Saturday, nearly 1200 boats will race around the Isle of Wight in Britain’s Favourite Yacht Race. With so many high-profile events being cancelled, the Round the Island is being tipped as the biggest mass participation event to be staged since the UK’s first lockdown a year ago.

Run by the Island Sailing Club, this year is the 90th anniversary of the race, and after so many months of yacht racing being halted in the UK, it's a welcome return for many fired-up competitors. Renowned sailor and Helly Hansen Ambassador Pip Hare will be firing the cannons at the Royal Yacht Squadron for the first start at 0630 and then jumping on a rib to join the crew on quarter tonner ‘Belinda’.

David Atkinson, Race Director said: “The focus for this year is organising a great race on the water. Saturday’s weather is currently looking good, but everyone should check the up-to-date forecast available on our event website. Entries have surpassed our expectations, and this clearly demonstrates the popularity of the race and the appetite for sailing in general after the latest lockdown. The entire race team of 130 people are working hard to ensure that all of our competitors have a fantastic day on the water. We look forward to hearing everyone's stories and seeing your pictures.”

A pre-race weather briefing will be given by the race’s official weather guru, Chris Tibbs, and will be available online from 1800 on Friday 2 July here on the event website. Chris Tibbs, said: It looks like it is going to be a slow start to the race until a weather front passes through late morning, then we will get a nice southwesterly wind with some sunny spells. This should get spinnakers flying on the south side of the island and a good finish to the race.”

One of the multihulls taking part in the race is PowerPlay, who as Concise 10 set the Round the Island Race Record (multihull class) of 2h 22m 23s in 2017. “PowerPlay is certainly capable of beating the record we set in 2017, but as usual the wind gods will have the final say. Ideally we would need an 18+ knot southerly for a quick lap,” commented the skipper, Ned Collier Wakefield. “We are really looking forward to racing in the Round the Island Race again, especially as some of the big boys are coming to play!”

Peter Cunningham, owner of the PowerPlay Racing Team said: “The MOD70 is the most exciting boat I have raced and the chance to compete in the Round the Island Race is a pinnacle. It is a great course and one of the stand-out moments is bearing away at The Needles. Going from 20+ upwind to 35 knots and more, you can feel the acceleration! Competition will be tough, but the boat and crew are in great shape, so bring it on!”

 The prize giving for the Gold Roman Bowl (overall IRC winner) and Silver Gilt Roman Bowl (overall ISCRS winner) will take place at The Island Sailing Club on Sunday. All other trophies will be awarded on Saturday 7 August at 1100, after Cowes Week, by when COVID restrictions will hopefully be lifted. A full list of winners will be available on the event website.

New race partner Marlin Leisure Marine opens their chandlery shop at 41 Cowes High Street this week and are inviting Round the Island Race competitors to have 10% off their first purchase in the Chandlery by quoting ‘RIR90YEARS.’

Haven Knox-Johnston are super proud to be celebrating their 20th year as Marine Insurance Partner in this, the 90th anniversary of the Round the Island Race. As always, their two sponsored yachts ‘Haven K-J Scotch Mist’ and ‘Haven K-J Enigma’, skippered by John Macaulay and Ian Braham respectively, will be out on the water vying for top positions! They wish John and Ian and their crews the very best of luck and safe sailing to all.

Win fabulous prizes from the Official Race Partners including a Raymarine Navigation display worth over £4,000; GoPro camera from Haven Knox-Johnston; Helly Hansen Salt Coastal Jacket and Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust bracelets and caps. Enter here. Open to UK residents aged 18+. Closing date: 1700 5 July 2021.

There are openings for new race partners in 2022 and beyond; email to start the conversation.

The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust has been the official race charity since 2005 and over £300,000 has been raised to help inspire hundreds of young people to believe in a brighter future. Their boat ‘Solent Hero’ will be competing tomorrow as the Trust ramps up their preparations to get young people #BackOnboard this summer. The Trust crew includes four volunteers, who were themselves supported by the Trust living through and beyond cancer. To support the Trust, simply text RACEFORALL to 70085 to donate £5* or visit their fundraising page

* texts cost £5 plus one standard rate message. 

In keeping with the race ethos ‘Race for All’, competitors and spectators are invited to upload their images to the photo gallery, where the best pictures will be featured on the main gallery page. Click here for details.