Best vantage points to watch the spectacular Round the Island Race
For the ultimate sailing spectacle, head to the Isle of Wight to catch the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, this year taking place on Saturday 27th June. It’s a unique opportunity to witness a vast 1,700 strong fleet of colourful yachts coursing along the Isle of Wight’s beautiful shoreline.
A major date in the annual sailing calendar, this one-day yacht race around the Isle of Wight regularly attracts around 16,000 sailors. With the right conditions, the scenes of so many vessels united in their task of completing the technical challenge the island poses, is truly awe-inspiring. Competitors flock from all over the UK, Europe and even the USA, to participate in one of the largest yacht races in the world.
Where does the racing take place?
The 50 nautical mile course round the Isle of Wight starts on the famous Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes. This year the starting gun will be fired by inspirational Sip-Puff sailing supremo Natasha Lambert, who lives on the Isle of Wight. Then the fleet races westabout, to The Needles, round St Catherine's Point and Bembridge Ledge buoy, and back into the Solent to the finish line at Cowes.
Although the majority of the fleet will take many hours to complete the race, the course records stand at 3h 43m 50s for a monohull boat, set by Mike Slade on ICAP Leopard in 2013, and 2h 52m 15s for a multihull boat, set by Sir Ben Ainslie on J.P. Morgan BAR also in 2013.
Where should spectators position themselves?
Those who want to catch the sailing action on they day can choose from a number of vantage points, both on the mainland and Isle of Wight. There’s always a great atmosphere in Cowes where the race begins. The first start in Cowes will be at 7.00am in 2015 for the bigger, technical boats, followed by ten separate groups leaving every 10 minutes. You’ll see a steady stream of yachts leave from Cowes until 8.40am.
Here are some other great places to watch:
7.00am – 8.40am: Gurnard
Award-winning restaurant The Little Gloster in Gurnard is the ideal spot to enjoy a hearty breakfast as the action unfolds out at sea.
8.30am – 11.00am: Fort Victoria
Grab a space on the grass at Fort Victoria for great views of the north island. You can head further on to Colwell – perfect to combine your viewing with breakfast from Captains Cabin or a cuppa from The Hut.
9.00am – 11.30am: The Needles
Head to the top of the downs at the Needles Battery where you can see the boats heading round these iconic rocks.
9.45am – 1.00am: Coastline from Compton to Chale
All along the cliffs and beaches from Compton to Chale offer great views of the yachts sailing by.
10.30am – 2.30pm: St Catherine’s Down
You’ll enjoy fabulous views across the whole Island from this wild and beautiful National Trust managed downland. Make the most of great photo opportunities here with the fleet passing historic St Catherine’s Lighthouse.
11am – 3.30pm: Ventnor
Ventnor’s famous Esplanade is a lovely vantage point to take a picnic and sit and watch the boats race by. It will be busy, but The Spyglass pub is a great location on the day, and full of nautical history to get you in the mood!
12pm – 5.00pm: Culver Down
Culver Down is situated between Sandown and Bembridge this beauty spot will give commanding views of the action.
12.30 pm – 5.00pm Seaview
Further around the coast is the Priory Bay, a lovely country hotel near Seaview. If you fancy splashing out, book for a fabulous Afternoon Tea here and catch the Round the Island Race action from the sunny terrace and gardens.
1pm – 6.30pm: Ryde
The racing fleet will pass Seaview and head for Ryde from mid-morning gathering real momentum and excitement. Why not head for lunch at the excellent Three Buoys pub in Ryde which is perfectly positioned right on the waterfront.
1pm – 7pm East Cowes
This is where thousands of exhausted sailors finally cross the finish line – so position yourself here for a great spectacle and lots of fun.
Watching remotely – TV coverage
Those who cannot be on the Isle of Wight to watch in person can always keep an eye on the race’s progress on the official JP Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race website. There is live text commentary and a boat tracking facility.
It’s recently been announced that television coverage of the race is being significantly extended in 2015 to include live streaming of the Race to a global audience.
There will be a dedicated outside-broadcast production unit providing live, commentated coverage of the starts and early finishes on Race day. The programme will be broadcast on EventTV in Cowes, at the Race Hubs in Hamble and Lymington, and on the official Race website for viewers around the world to watch.
Want to race this year?
There's still time to sign up as standard entries don't close until midnight on 13th June this year and late entries are accepted right up until noon on 24th June.
Enter here: http://www.rtir.me/entries
Article: Alison Clements