ORGANISED by the much-respected Island Sailing Club, the Round the Island has always been one of the UK’s largest participation sporting events and regularly attracts more than 1,500 boats and thousands of sailors.

One of the unique attractions of the race is its evenhandedness and the opportunity for Olympic and world champion sailors to compete on the same racecourse with amateurs, families and club sailors of all ages.

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The current monohull record is held by Mike Slade on ICAP Leopard, who in the near-perfect conditions of 2013 posted an elapsed time of 3 hours 43 minutes and 50 seconds.

Isle of Wight County Press:

ICAP Leopard,  which holds the current monohull record.

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 hours 22 minutes and 23 seconds.

The original idea for the Island Sailing Club’s Round the Island Race came from member Major Cyril Windeler.

In 1930 he suggested a handicap race around the Island which could cater for smaller boats — those in the category of five to 25 tons.

The first race took place in 1931 with 25 entries and it was one of the smaller boats which won. The successful skipper, Peter Brett, competed in a 22- foot Cornish fishing boat, Merry Conceit. The top trophy then, as now, was the Gold Roman Bowl.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Merry Conceit, the winner of the inaugural race in 1931, taking part in the Round the Island yacht race the following year. Picture: Beken of Cowes.

There was drama in the 1933 race when the leading yacht, Isaac Bell’s Rosemary IV, lost her mainsail just before the finish line, but still beat her rival, Felise, by 46 seconds. Meanwhile, Dr R T Cooke’s 32-year-old cutter Enid sprang a leak and sank off Alum Bay.

The Rt. Honourable Sir Edward Heath was a keen supporter and won the Round the Island Race four times; three of them in consecutive years in the early 1970s on Morning Cloud II and Morning Cloud III. In 1980 he took the top trophy once more in Morning Cloud IV.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Edward Heath’s Morning Cloud IV, which was victorious in the Round the Island yacht race in 1980. It was the fourth of Ted’s four wins. Picture: Beken of Cowes.

Boatbuilder Jeremy Rogers won three times, in 2002, 2003 and 2006, all on Rosina of Beaulieu, his own Contessa 26.

The Gold Roman Bowl has been won twice by women — Helen Tobin on Barbar in 1954 and Julia Dane on Glass Onion in 1982.

READ AGAIN: Gold Roman Bowl 2000 winner Cloudnine is back for today's Round the Island race

Look out for our coverage of today's Round the Island yacht race.