The last of the fleet has rounded the Needles and headed for St Catherine's, the most southerly point on the Isle of Wight

After a gentle start this morning, conditions in the Round the Island Race freshened as the last of the fleet rounded the Needles and headed for St Catherine’s, the most southerly point on the Isle of Wight.

Three hours into the race the breeze had built to a 17/20 knot easterly, with fast reaching conditions to the south-west of the Island. At the same time Eure et Loir-Idec the current multihull record holder rounded Bembridge and Leopard of London, current monohull record holder, reached St Catherine’s.

Both Eure et Loir-Idec and Leopard have since gone on to finish the race, both with times at least an hour slower than their respective records.

At the other end of the fleet, the last of the un-rated boats are laying a course for St Catherine’s, with Sir Robin Knox-Johnston leading some 300 boats. Former winner Edward Donald in the folkboat Madelaine is also making good progress.

The improved wind strength led to very few boats missing the tidal gate and having to struggle against an adverse tide to reach The Needles. Indeed many boats are well on their way to Bembridge and we should be seeing a steady stream of boats making the final leg up the Eastern Solent within a short time.

The race office reports that apart from a number of groundings off the Needles, the event has so far seen no major incidents. Check back shortly for reports from our correspondents onboard a number of cruising class yachts, including Suhali.