Round The Island Race battered by brutal wind speeds

By Mal Butler Jun 19, 2024
First monohull home - Notorious

Hundreds of boats were forced out of the Round the Island Race on Saturday, as the coast was battered by wind speeds of more than 50 knots.

A total of 999 yachts originally entered the iconic race, but by Saturday morning eight classes had already been cancelled.

Eventually more than 550 boats started the race with just 154 finishing, many turning back by the time they reached The Needles after starting from Cowes.

There were two incidents with sailors being swept overboard – one near The Needles, after two yachts collided with each other, and another sent into the sea by a wave off St Catherine’s Point. Thankfully, both sailors were pulled on board by crew members.

Other yachts suffered broken masts and a broken rudder, while one was towed back to Yarmouth after taking in water following a collision.

Race director, Dave Atkinson, said: “This race was a challenge for both the competitors and the race team at the Island Sailing Club, with the safety and well-being of the crews being the main priority.

“We would like to thank the RNLI, independent lifeboats and coastguard teams for their assistance and co-operation before and during the race. Despite the challenging conditions, we only had nine incidents connected to the race which is less than previous years. This shows the seamanship of the crews and the correct decision-making which went into the undertaking of the race.”

Race safety officer and station manager at Cowes RNLI, Mark Southwell, added: “The sailors who competed made the right call and had a challenging – but no doubt enjoyable – race they’ll remember. Those who cancelled or retired as they sensed conditions approaching The Needles also made the right decision.”

The battle for the coveted Gold Roman Bowl was won by Cowes-based Peter Morton and his crew on TP52 Notorious, who also won the Observer Trophy for Monohull Line Honours.

Peter said: “This is one of the world’s greatest races and every year I look forward to it. I’ve not had the boat that long, but I’ve competed in Round the Island Race many times over the last 50 years in various boats I’ve owned.

“This was special and the toughest one I’ve done. It’s 40 years since I won the Gold Roman Bowl on a little 25ft boat called ‘Odd Job’, which was the smallest boat in the fleet, so this year was very special for me.”

The first boat to cross the finish line was the multihull Highland Fling 18, which completed the race in 3h 39m 5s and won the Freedom Challenge Bowl (Line Honours for Multihull Grand Prix & MOCRA Racing Classes).

Visit iw.observer/roundtheisland to view our on-line gallery of the event.