Iconic race celebrates 90 years

The world-famous Round the Island Race returns this July when it will be celebrating its 90th anniversary.

With so many high-profile events being cancelled, the Round the Island is being tipped as one of the biggest events to be staged since the UK’s first lockdown a year ago. Organised by the Island Sailing Club, the Round the Island has always been one of the UK’s largest participation sporting events and regularly attracts more than 1,500 boats and thousands of sailors. 

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 racecourse with amateurs, families and club sailors of all ages. Whilst the majority of the boats will simply enjoy the challenge of getting all the way round, there will be many teams aiming to beat the existing course records.

The monohull record is held by Mike Slade on ICAP Leopard, who in the near-perfect conditions of 2013 posted an elapsed time of 3 hours 43 minutes and 50 seconds. The multihull class, introduced in 1961, generally achieves even faster times, as shown in 2017 when Ned Collier Wakefield’s Concise10 flew round in just 2 hours 22 minutes and 23 seconds.

Rob Peace, rear commodore for Island Sailing Club, said: “The Island Sailing Club are delighted to launch the 2021 race. Sailors are desperate to get back out on their boats, and our race is perfectly timed and definitely provides a unique and thrilling experience for all of the crews. Over the past 90 years approximately 500,000 sailors and 70,000 boats have been challenged by this race – those are some impressive statistics!”

David Atkinson, race director, said: The focus for 2021 is on organising a great race on the water. While the UK government’s roadmap out of lockdown suggests we will be able to run some of our usual social activities ashore, we are very mindful of the possible need to avoid large gatherings over the race weekend.

“No decisions have been taken at this stage, and we will be updating our plans in line with the easing of restrictions over the coming weeks and months. Naturally, we expect those taking part to follow all of the current guidelines in place for the race, and we will be providing a summary of guidance from relevant authorities through a dedicated page on the event website. We will be asking everyone to check this regularly, familiarise themselves with the information and help make the event safe for us all.

The ethos of a ‘Race for All’ continues this year with the first Windeler Cup competition to set sail after the main fleet departs from Cowes, allowing small keelboat racers from the Daring, Dragon, Etchells, Flying Fifteen, Mermaid, Redwing, Sunbeam, Swallow, Sonar, Squib, RS Elite, Victory and XOD classes to join in the fun with an exciting Solent Race. Also, the race weekend is extended to welcome competitors from the rowing and kitesurfing worlds, who will enjoy their own Round the Island on the Thursday and Friday before the main sailing race on 3 July.

Spectators can enjoy a fantastic view of all the action from many points on the Island’s breath-taking coastline. The organisers are working with Visit Isle of Wight to produce a comprehensive guide to the best ‘fresh air’ viewing spots with associated public transport, parking, facilities and refreshment information. 

Helly Hansen, the Official Clothing Partner, are launching a capsule collection in partnership with the Island Sailing Club. It incorporates some of the brand’s favourite technical pieces for the marine and watersports industry, including a Crew Jacket, Daybreak 1/2 Zip Fleece, Transat Polo and Crew Cap for both men and women.  All garments feature the special ‘90 Years’ Round the Island Race logo and are available to order online from 1 April on the event website.

The Round the Island Race continues to support and fundraise for its official charity, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust. The Trust’s amazing work is focused on rebuilding confidence of young people after cancer, through sailing and adventure.    

To enter, go to the event website www.roundtheisland.org.uk. For all the latest news follow on social media and use hashtags #RIR21, #90years and #RaceForAll.

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