This year’s world-famous Round the Island Race is set to be a very special celebration of the event’s 90th anniversary. Organised by the Island Sailing Club, the race has always been one of the UK’s largest participation sporting events and regularly attracts over 1,500 boats and thousands of sailors to the south coast. This year the 50-mile race will be held on 3 July, and with so many high-profile events being cancelled, it is being tipped as one of the biggest events to be staged since the UK’s first lockdown last spring.
One of the unique attractions of the race is its even-handedness and the opportunity for Olympic and world champion sailors to compete on the same course with amateurs, families and club sailors of all ages. While the majority of the competitors will simply enjoy the challenge of getting all the way round the Isle of Wight, there’ll be many teams aiming to beat the existing course records. It’s an early sunrise start off the Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes, with sailing legend Pip Hare starting the race before jumping in a RIB to compete in a Quarter Tonner.
The ethos of a ‘Race for All’ continues this year with the first Windeler Cup competition setting sail after the main fleet departs, allowing small keelboat racers, including boats from the Daring, Etchells and XOD classes, to join in the fun. The race weekend is extended to welcome competitors from the rowing and kitesurfing worlds, too, who’ll enjoy their own Round the Island on the Thursday and Friday before the main sailing race on Saturday.
The race is supported by official partners Chelsea Magazines (Sailing Today with Yachts & Yachting and Classic Boat Magazine), Helly Hansen, Haven Knox-Johnston and Raymarine.
Working in partnership with the RNLI, Helly Hansen will once again be carrying out its annual lifejacket checks, which will take place at the Helly Hansen Cowes store on Friday 2 July.