ONE of the globe's biggest and most popular yachting events, the Round the Island Race, celebrates its 90th anniversary with its much-vaunted return this summer.

Entries for the event on July 3, cancelled last year due to coronavirus, opened at a minute past midnight this morning (Friday).

Isle of Wight County Press:

Organised by the Island Sailing Club (ISC), the Round the Island Race has always been one of the UK’s most spectacular participation sporting events, which regularly attracts more than 1,500 boats — and thousands of sailors. 

This year, the event celebrates its 90th anniversary and, with so many high-profile events being cancelled, it is being tipped to be one of the biggest events to be staged since the UK’s first lockdown just over a year ago.

Isle of Wight County Press:

One of the unique attractions of the race is its even-handedness and the opportunity for Olympic and world champion sailors to compete on the same course against amateurs, families and club sailors of all ages and abilities. 

While the majority of the boats will simply enjoy the challenge of getting all the way round, there will be many teams aiming to beat existing course records. 

Isle of Wight County Press:

The current monohull record continues to be held by Mike Slade, who sailed on ICAP Leopard, who in near-perfect conditions, posted an elapsed time of 3hrs 43mins and 50secs in 2013. 

The multihull class, introduced in 1961, generally achieves even faster times, as shown in 2017 when Ned Collier Wakefield’s Concise10 flew round in just 2.22.23.

The ISC's rear commodore for sailing, Rob Peace, said: “The ISC is delighted to launch the 2021 race. 

Isle of Wight County Press:

"Sailors are desperate to get back out on their boats — and our race is perfectly timed, which definitely provides a unique and thrilling experience for all of the crews. 

"Over the past 90 years, approximately 500,000 sailors and 70,000 boats have been challenged by this race. Those are some impressive statistics!”

Isle of Wight County Press:

Race director, David Atkinson, added: “The focus for 2021 is on organising a great race on the water.

"While the government's roadmap out of lockdown suggests we will be able to run some of our usual social activities ashore, we are very mindful of the possible need to avoid large gatherings over the race weekend. 

Isle of Wight County Press:

"No decisions have been taken at this stage and we will be updating our plans in line with the easing of restrictions over the coming weeks and months. 

"Naturally, we expect those taking part to follow all of the current guidelines in place for the race itself. We will be providing a summary of guidance from relevant authorities, via a dedicated page on the event website. 

Isle of Wight County Press:

"We will be asking everyone to check this regularly — familiarising themselves with the information to help make the event safe for us all.”

The ethos of a ‘race for all’ continues at pace this year, with the first Windeler Cup competition to set sail after the main fleet departs from Cowes.

The event allows small keelboat racers, from the Daring, Dragon, Etchells, Flying Fifteen, Mermaid, Redwing, Sunbeam, Swallow, Sonar, Squib, RS Elite, Victory and XOD classes to join in the fun, with an exciting Solent race. 

Isle of Wight County Press:

Also, the race weekend is extended to welcome competitors from the rowing and kite surfing worlds, who will enjoy their own Round the Island on the Thursday and Friday before the main Round the Island race on the Saturday.

Spectators can enjoy a fantastic view of all the action from many viewpoints along the Island coastline. 

Isle of Wight County Press:

Organisers are working with Visit Isle of Wight to produce a comprehensive guide to the best viewing spots, that can be reached by associated public transport, as well as details of parking, facilities and places to get refreshments.

Meanwhile, the Round the Island Race continues to support and raise funds for its official charity, the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust. The trust's amazing work is focused on rebuilding the confidence of young people after cancer, through sailing and adventure.

Isle of Wight County Press:

To enter the Round the Island Race, go to the event website 

For all the latest news, follow it on social media and use hashtags #RIR21, #90years and #RaceForAll.