Five top tips to make the Round the Island Race plain sailing – even if it’s your first time

Thousands of sailors are set to take part in this year’s J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round
the Island Race
on 27 June.

Set against the backdrop of the breathtaking coastal scenery of the Isle of Wight, the race holds a unique appeal for professional sailors and novices alike, with competitors travelling from all over the world to take part in the one-day event.

Amateur sailors compete against world record holders in a circumnavigation of the island, sailing from The Needles, right around St Catherine’s Point and Bembridge Ledge buoy, and back into the Solent to cross the finish line at Cowes.

Now in its 82nd year the race attracts huge crowds at strategic vantage points dotted around the island to witness the spectacle as 1,700 boats compete for 60 prizes in a variety of classes, although every participant receives a memento of the day.

First-time boat owner Jonathan Jowett sailed in last year’s race with his wife Vanda and friend Mike Dray on board Jago, and said ahead of the event: “We’re all dinghy sailors at heart and we all sail against each other at Littleton Sailing Club, Surrey, but last year Vanda and I bought a small Etap 21i for a bit of fun. Unfortunately, we can’t help ourselves and the inner racer made us sign up for the Round the Island race.

“We just hope the boat lives up to the challenge”, says Jonathan.

The crew on board Jago were all experienced solo dinghy sailors, having regularly competed at national and regional events but the advice to all the sailors is the same.

Jonathan and Vanda have both previously
completed the Round the Island Race as crew in folk boats but 2014 was the first time they sailed in their own yacht.

“This is going to be our first yacht race in our own boat. We’re looking forward to the spectacle of the Round the Island Race, the fun of the event, the beer and the thought that this is going to be the furthest we’ve sailed in a single day so far with Jago.

“Our preparation has been quite long. We were probably one of the first entries to the race. Because the boat was new to us there has been plenty of things to do in order to get her ready.

“I’ve become quite good at buying things on eBay and I think the best deal I managed was a brand new harness line for a £5 – postage included.”

Jonathan’s team particularly looked forward to the chance of meeting some of the world’s greatest sailing stars such as Sir Ben Ainslie who raced in the event on board the famous Leopard.

Race results are published immediately after they become available on the website and on screens at the Island Sailing Club, with a formal prize giving ceremony shortly after, where more than 60 trophies are awarded.

Top five tips for completing the Round the island Race

1. Check your equipment
The Round the Island Race organisers suggest thoroughly checking your boat over before beginning the event as the pressure of the day may expose weaknesses in your equipment.

2. Maximise your speed
And if you’re looking to achieve a good time in the race, be sure not to lose any speed with a dirty hull and take any extra items you don’t need, such as bicycles, off the boat.

3. Keep turning left
When it comes to navigation, there are no hard and fast rules, just keep the island on your port side as you sail round the 50 nautical mile course.

4. Check the forecast
Race partner Raymarine will be providing a weather briefing for all skippers in the Island Sailing Club at 6pm on Friday or you can get a forecast online or on the radio.

5. Take plenty of snacks
The race itself can take some vessels up to 12 hours to complete so it’s important to take plenty of liquids and quality energy food with you. Food that requires no preparation is best, that way you can spend more time sailing. Sandwiches, cereal bars and fruit are ideal for this kind of event.