WHAT an experience it was for young Cowes sailor Ran Wheeler who stepped up to the plate to compete in his first-ever Round the Island Race — at the ripe old age of ten!

Ran, a member of Gurnard Sailing Club from as far back as he can remember, joined his London-based godfather David Rolfe’s crew on board his Sigma 33 yacht, Shadowfax, for the race on Saturday morning.

The youngest to race, Ran had only recently progressed to Teras, from Oppies and Mirrors, and took a huge leap in the sport of sailing by joining the IRC 3C class yacht.

“I’d never really been in big boats before. This was my first Round the Island Race — a really good introduction to yacht sailing,” Ran said.

Isle of Wight County Press: Ran Wheeler on deck.Ran Wheeler on deck.

Plenty of aspects of taking part amazed him — sailing past his yacht club, rounding The Needles, passing St Catherine’s Lighthouse and negotiating Ryde Sands.

“At Ryde Sands, it got so shallow, down to 20cm deep, we nearly got grounded,” said Ran.

“I was amazed by the size of the waves. I’m not normally allowed to leave the confines of Gurnard Bay, so the waves are only half a metre high at their highest, but when we went round The Needles, the waves were 2m high — massive compared to what I usually see.

“The thing I loved most was whenever we tacked, I literally jumped across the coach roof of the boat. It was so fun crawling across the top of it — half flying, half jumping.

“I also learned about the GPS system, jibs and spinnakers, which was fun.”