Watch the Round the Island Race this weekend

Side of the Isle of Wight. Credit: Ian Roman
Side of the Isle of Wight. Credit: Ian Roman

Ahead of this weekend’s J.P. Morgan Round the Island Race on the Isle of Wight we look back at the history of the famous sailing event.

Side of the Isle of Wight. Credit: Ian Roman
Yachts circle the Isle of Wight. Credit: Ian Roman

The original Round the Island Race was the brainchild of Major Cyril Windeler, a member of the Island Sailing Club, on the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England.

In 1930 Windeler suggested a handicap race around the island aimed at smaller boats (from 5 to 25 tons), which was perhaps a swipe at the nearby Royal Yacht Squadron, whose members had to own a yacht of 30 tons or more.

Major Cyril Windeler
Major Cyril Windeler

The first race took place in 1931 and since then it has grown to be a highly competitive one-day sailing event, regularly attracting over 1,500 boats and around 16,000 sailors, making it one of the largest yacht races in the world and the fourth largest participation sporting event in the UK after the London Marathon and the Great North and South Runs.

Side of the Isle of Wight. Credit: Ian Roman
The race in full flow. Credit: Ian Roman

The yachts compete in a 50 nautical mile circuit around the Isle of Wight, starting and finishing in Cowes, with spectators gathering in vantage points such as the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth, Hurst Castle and The Needles, with plenty of shoreside entertainment, including events taking place this year as part of the Festival of the Sea.

Spectators watch the race from one of the vantage points. Credit: Thierry Martinez
Spectators watch the race from one of the vantage points. Credit: Thierry Martinez

This year’s Round the Island race will take place on 21 June with the first boats setting off at 6.30am, although the event will go on long into the evening.

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