Date for the 90th anniversary Round the Island race is announced

The 90th anniversary event of the Round the Island race will be one of the biggest sporting events in the UK since the first lockdown was announced a year ago.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 6:00 am
The 2021 Round the Island race will be held on July 3. Picture: Paul Wyeth.

The iconic competition will be held off the Isle of Wight on Saturday July 3 - its first staging since 2019 due to the pandemic.

The Round the Island has always been one of the UK’s largest participation sporting events and regularly attracts over 1,500 boats and thousands of sailors.

Rob Peace, Rear Commodore for Sailing at race organisers Island Sailing Club, said: ‘We are delighted to launch the 2021 race.

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‘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!’

Though it is going ahead after last year’s cancellation, the spectre of coronavirus will hang over the event.

David Atkinson, Race Director, explained: ‘While the 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.

There were just 25 entries when the first Round the Island took place in 1931. Eight years later, the last race before the second World War, 80 boats took part.

From there, numbers steadily increased, from 105 in 1950 to 1,309 in the mid 1980s. A record turnout of 1,813 was seen in 1989, the Centenary of the Island Sailing Club, but that was broken in 2008 with a record 1,875 entries.

A unique attraction of the race is 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 enjoy the challenge of getting all the way round the 50 nautical mile course, there will be many aiming to beat the existing course records.

The current 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 - in 2017 Ned Collier Wakefield’s Concise10 finished in a stunning 2 hours 22 minutes and 23 seconds.

Entries for this year’s race are now open. Visit www.roundtheisland.org.uk for details.