Iconic Round the Island sailing race is cancelled due to the pandemic

The iconic Round the Island sailing race has been cancelled for 2020.

Round the Island Race, 2019. Picture: Shaun Roster.
Round the Island Race, 2019. Picture: Shaun Roster.

Initially postponed in May and moved to September, it now won’t take place at all.

Organisers Island Racing Club said they have been ‘exploring every avenue with all relevant authorities to keep the 2020 race alive.

‘However, running the race to guarantee Covid-19 compliance to protect the safety of staff and volunteers as well, as the many thousands of competitors, has proved impossible.’

Race Director Dave Atkinson said: ‘With fears of a second wave, the growing number of restrictions on overseas travel, as well as the rise in local lockdowns, our hopes of staging this year’s race have been dashed.

‘As sailing restrictions have eased, it appeared that safety on the water was becoming less of an issue.

‘But sadly, with Round the Island being one of the UK’s largest sporting events, achieving shoreside Covid-19 compliance within current government guidelines is simply not achievable.’

Ian Walker, Racing Director of the Royal Yachting Association, was ‘sad’ to hear the race had been cancelled.

‘I am sure many people, like myself, were looking forward to competing but I am not surprised that the Island Sailing Club came to this tough decision,’ said the double Olympic silver medallist.

‘Whilst the RYA have pushed hard for the return to boating that we have enjoyed since May, we have also encouraged the boating community to be considerate and conservative.

‘I believe that this decision recognises the potential risks of such a large-scale event, respects our RYA principles, and most importantly respects the emergency services and the many local communities that might have been affected.

‘I very much hope that 2021 will prove to be bigger and better than ever.’

All the entries for this year’s race will be rolled over to next year’s race, which will take place on July 3, 2021.

The Round the Island race first took place in 1931 with just 25 entries.

Numbers steadily increased, from 105 in 1950, to 1,309 in the mid-1980s.

A superb turnout of 1,813 was seen in 1989, the Centenary of the Island Sailing Club, but even that was exceeded in 2008 with a record 1,875 entries.