At 0630 this morning, the starting cannon at The Royal Yacht Squadron boomed across the Solent to mark the start of the 90th anniversary edition of Round the Island Race.
Renowned solo sailor Pip Hare did the honours of being the official race starter for the Island Sailing Club’s iconic 50 nautical mile annual race around the Isle of Wight. She said: “It’s one of the big sailing events in the calendar, a race that you never want to miss. The mass participation element means it’s an incredible sight and you get a fantastic feeling from being part of it, but also it’s a great race. The course offers so much; it’s technical, it’s tactical and the weather can be anything, so definitely a race I want to do every year. It’s like a mini round-the-world!”
With nearly 1,200 boats and 7,000 sailors competing, this race is being tipped as the biggest mass participation event to be staged since the UK’s first lockdown a year ago. One of the unique attractions of the race is its even-handedness and the opportunity for amateurs, families and club sailors of all ages to compete on the same racecourse with Olympic and World champion sailors.
David Atkinson, Race Director said: “We’ve had every type of conditions possible; light winds, no wind, rain, fog, mist and the sun, all of which makes the race an exciting challenge. That said, reports coming in from competitors indicate they’ve had a fantastic time on the water and have thoroughly enjoyed the day.”
Peter Cunningham’s MOD70 PowerPlay was the first to finish the race with a time of 4hrs 11mins 01secs. A light start to the race prevented any chance of beating the race record, which was set by PowerPlay, as Concise 10 in 2017 (2hrs 22mins and 23 secs). PowerPlay finished this year’s race ahead of the ULTIM Actual and the 32m trimaran IDEC.
“Fantastic, unbelievable!” commented Peter Cunningham. “The teamwork was absolutely flawless, especially tacking in the light winds to get out of the Solent. The sail changes worked really, really well all the way around. Another cold race but we are absolutely delighted to come home first in this great race!”
Boats to continue to cross the finish line in Cowes, and it’s likely that the last boats will be completing the course at around 20.00 tonight.