Round the Island Race 2017 in association with Cloudy Bay
The annual Round the Island Race in association with Cloudy Bay, took place on Saturday the 1st of July. Organised by the Island Sailing Club, this one-day yacht race had a 50 nautical mile course around the beautiful Isle of Wight. The 2017 race was the 86th edition since it started in 1931. Attracting over 1,300 boats and around 15,000 sailors, the Round the Island Race is one of the largest yacht races in the world as well as the fourth largest participation sporting event in the UK. The race started at the Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes, carrying west to the Needles, St Catherine’s Point, then the Bembridge Ledge buoy and back to the finish at Cowes.
I was racing on board Cornish Air, a Rustler 36, which was part of the purple fleet - the slow one! oN the Friday we went out training in 10-15 knots of wind from the north, which were perfect conditions to get the symmetrical spinnaker up. About half the boats that would be racing the next day were out sailing, so it was a truly spectacular sight. That night the town of Cowes was buzzing with a little race village and live music, and thousands of sailors were there.
Saturday was race day, with a 0500 wake up to have slipped lines by 0600. Our start was at 7 o’clock, but boats were split into fleets to avoid total mayhem so boats such as the 70- foot trimaran Team Concise 10 had their start at around 4 o' clock in the morning; we were lucky! With 20 knots of wind going across the start line, it was carnage to try and get in a good spot, with most boats jostling for the windward end. As the start canon went from the Island Sailing Club, we headed off towards the Needles in clean air, in about the front third of the fleet. As we rounded the Needles, we got the symmetrical spinnaker up. Going round the lighthouse was a bit crazy as the first leg was a reach so the boats hadn’t had time to split up and spread out. It was a race between all the boats to see who could get their spinnakers up first. Having an symmetrical spinnaker meant that we could go dead downwind as opposed to the boats with asymmetric spinnakers who had to go from broad reach to broad reach, losing time and causing chaos gybing!
Being a heavy boat, we lost about 200 places going downwind, and as the wind died we were going even slower. After 4 hours of downwind, we rounded St Catherine’s lighthouse. From there it was a gentle reach towards Bembridge, rounding the cardinals and turning upwind towards Cowes. On the reach the boats in front had been caught in a lull, giving us time to catch up. For the upwind we decided to stay to the north side, near the shipping channel and the mainland. Tacking was slow in Cornish Air, so we decided to stay close to the lay lines of big tacks. Luckily, when we tacked we sailed into a big lift, sailing us into 1126th, however with ISC rating we came 432nd out of about 700, which I’m very pleased with!
11 hours to round the Isle of Wight is a long time – made to feel even longer when we saw that a new record had been set when Skipper Ned Collier Wakefield and his team finished the 50-nautical mile race in two hours, 22 minutes and 23 seconds.
For anyone considering doing the race, I would highly recommend it, as it is an incredible experience to be out with that many boats racing and to be along side many famous names such as Giles Scott, Sir Keith Mills, Freddie Carr, Matt Cornwell and Nick Hutton (BAR sailors). Even off the water the atmosphere is incredible, with live music filling the whole of Cowes. It was also a great time to test out the Rooster Pro Coastal Jacket. The Pro Coastal Jacket was perfect in all of the conditions the race threw at us, with its waterproof seams and zips keeping me and my pockets completely dry and warm as well as being incredibly comfortable. An essential bit of kit along with the UV neck sleeve for this summers sailing!By Charlie Cadin