GREAT news for sailing fans as more than 100 entries are predicted for the forthcoming Race the Wight sailing event on Saturday, August 1.

Race the Wight will be the first of a four-race mini-series during August and September.

Its organisers, the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC), say IRC classes for the 50-nautical mile race around the Isle of Wight are still to be confirmed.

However, early entry figures indicate a fleet full of champions, with any number of potential winners.

Isle of Wight County Press: Greg Leonard's Class40 Kite. Photo: John Green, CowesGreg Leonard's Class40 Kite. Photo: John Green, Cowes

Five JPKs have already entered, including Cowes-based Richard Palmer’s JPK 10.10 Jangada — overall winner of the 2019 RORC Transatlantic Race — who will be up against new teams in similar designs. 

All entry fees from this year's race will be donated to both the Isle of Wight NHS Trust and the Scaramouche Sailing Trust.

“As a charity, we rely on donations and grants. Every pound we receive goes towards getting more students from different backgrounds sailing,” said Jon Holt, of the Scaramouche Sailing Trust.

“Our next big goal is to be on the start line of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2021.

"We are grateful for the ongoing support from RORC and proud to be named as one of the charities for the race.”

Isle of Wight County Press: Ian Atkins’ Melges IC37 Icy. Photo: John Green, CowesIan Atkins’ Melges IC37 Icy. Photo: John Green, Cowes

The Greig City Academy will have upwards of a dozen students on different boats for the race.

Favourites for monohull line honours are RORC vice-commodore, James Neville, who will be racing his HH42 Ino XXX, and Ian Atkins, racing his Melges IC37 Icy.

The overall winner of Race the Wight will be decided by time correction, using the IRC rating system.

In big upwind conditions, Geoffrey Mulcahy’s Swan 56 Noonmark IV, skippered by Mike Gilburt, will be a force to be reckoned with.

Given the crew limitations and favoured wind conditions, Greg Leonard‘s Class 40 Kite (previousaly Maxime Sorel’s V and B — winner of the 2017 Rolex Fastnet Race), should blast round the Island.

Isle of Wight County Press:

“We are looking forward to it. It’s been completely frustrating to have missed racing,” said Neville.

“We have been modifying the boat over the winter — and part of this race will be to test and learn what can be done.

"The race will give us the experience to move onto the next steps, in terms of how we can race the boat, given the current restrictions.

"We have had one training session — and it is certainly all on when we gybe.

"However, I wouldn’t go out if we were unable to use spinnakers because it is important to get the boat lit up. We will be racing with six and be taking all the necessary precautions.”

Isle of Wight County Press: Simon Baker’s Dazcat 1495 Hissy Fit. Photo: James TomlinsonSimon Baker’s Dazcat 1495 Hissy Fit. Photo: James Tomlinson

Atkins added: “I am beyond excited! The challenge now is whittling a crew of nine down to six, but we will probably rotate the crew during the mini-series.

"Everybody on board is very capable, so they should all get a chance to race during the series.

"You need all nine crew in a blow on a short windward leeward race, but round the Wight is perfect to stretch our legs without too many corners to negotiate.”

Some 18 J/boats have already entered the race, and Tom Hayhoe and Natalie Jobling, who both work for the Isle of Wight NHS Trust, will be racing J/105 Mostly Harmless two-handed.

Michael O’Donnell’s J/121 Darkwood won last year’s RORC Channel Race and will be competing with a crew of five.
“With water ballast and a sail configuration designed for short-handed sailing, we are actually sailing with our optimum crew — even with the restrictions,” O’Donnell said.  

“The race around the Isle of Wight, starting at the Royal Yacht Squadron, is possibly the most iconic in the world. We just can’t wait to get out there.”

Isle of Wight County Press: Action from last year's Race the Wight. Photo: Paul WyethAction from last year's Race the Wight. Photo: Paul Wyeth

Eight examples of Beneteau’s Sun Fast yachts have entered, including the overall winner of the 2019 RORC Season’s Points Championship, Trevor Middleton’s Black Sheep and last year’s season runner up Bellino — raced two-handed by Rob Craigie and Deb Fish.

Two Sun Fast 3300 will be racing — Peter Bacon’s Sea Bear and Jim Driver’s Chilli Pepper.

Vintage yachts abound through the fleet, including some of the smallest entries, 2019 Quarter Ton Cup Champion Protis, with Ian Southworth on the tiler, will be able to gauge their performance against Tony Hayward’s Blackfun.

Past RORC commodore, Peter Rutter, will be racing his restored Half Tonner Quokka 9.

Giovanni Belgrano is part of the structural design team for INEOS Team UK for the America’s Cup, and his 1939 Giles one-off design Whooper has solid form for the race — a past winner of the Gold Roman Bowl in the ISC Round the Island Race, beating over a thousand competitors.

Full details in the Notice of Race can be found on, but in summary, permitted crew can be up to a maximum of six from any household or two-thirds of a boat’s IRC crew number whichever is the least.

Competitors are also reminded of the government guidance on social distancing and other Covid19 measures.