A total of 1,584 boats are signed up to race around Isle of Wight tomorrow for the 84th edition of the Round the Island (RTI) Race.
It will take an hour and 40 minutes to get this year’s fleet safely underway from the Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes.
Eleven classes will set off between 0700 – 0840 and the Island Sailing Club (ISC) organisers are delighted that the inspirational Isle of Wight-based ‘sip & puff’ sailor Natasha Lambert, is firing the first gun.
Paralympic gold medallist sailor Helena Lucas will present the prizes to the race winners.
Commodore of the ISC Mark Wynter, who has taken part every year (bar one) since 1977 said: ‘Year after year this unique race challenges all of us who are fortunate enough to compete regularly, and in so many different ways.
‘The weather, the early starts, late finishes, fickle winds, tides, course obstacles, the vast numbers of boats, are all on the day’s exciting agenda and hundreds and hundreds keep coming back for more.
“The Round the Island Race is truly a highlight in the yachting calendar for everyone involved, from its title sponsor J.P. Morgan Asset Management and the family of Race Partners, to the masses of wonderful race volunteers and the Race management team.‘
Likely to attract much of the media attention is Prince de Bretagne, the 80ft Multihull prototype driven by Lionel Lemonchois with Roland Jourdan and Gurloës Merrien on board, and the MOD70 Concise 10 team including Ned Collier-Wakefield with Jean-Pierre Dick and Paul Larsen amongst other crew helping them to try and break the current multihull race record set by Ben Ainslie on 1st June 2013.
Sir Ben was on J.P. Morgan BAR, an AC45 and stole the show setting the record at 2.52.15 beating, by an impressive 16 minutes, the previous multihull race record set by Francis Joyon in 2001 aboard Dexia Eure et Loire of 3.08.29.
In the Monohulls, look out for the 100ft Farr Leopard, with owner Mike Slade on the wheel who already holds the monohull race record on 1st June 2013, standing at 3.43.50.
This is 9 minutes and 45 seconds inside ICAP Leopard’s own race record set back in 2008.
Amongst some better-known names taking part this year and racing on an IMOCA 60, are Giles Scott, Olympic hopeful, part of the British Sailing Team and a member of Team Volvo, and Olympic silver medallist Hannah Mills who is currently campaigning for Rio 2016 with sailing partner Saskia Clark in the 470 women’s dinghy class.
Olympic equestrian star and medallist Mary King will also be joining a crew for her first-ever RTI.
Watch the action
The new, live RTI TV programme will feature pre-race interviews with key competitors and race officials, full coverage of each of the 11 starts, as-live action from key parts of the racetrack, audio interviews with leading competitors during the race and live coverage of the first winning boats, along with high-quality graphics (including live race tracking of the fleet), key results, weather updates and advertorial features from some of the race sponsors.
Two commentators – Simon Vigar on shore and Matthew Sheahan on the water -will anchor the show and keep viewers updated with the latest progress.
RTI TV will be shown on the official race website but is also viewable locally on WightFibre channel 202, on the big screen in the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Race Village in Cowes Yacht Haven, in an assortment of venues in Cowes including the Island Sailing Club. It will also be shown at the Race HUB Clubs on the mainland i.e. the Royal Lymington and the Royal Southern in Hamble.
If you’re planning to visit Cowes over the race weekend or watch the race from one of the vantage points around the Island, a Spectator Guide can be found here. As well as details of all the shoreside activities taking place, there’s a handy map and a table of times at which the boats will pass different points during the 50 nautical mile race.
Armchair spectators can also follow the day’s action using the online tracking facility and the live blog run by the event media team, as well as reading the hourly news summaries, all of which will be on the official website.
Dave Atkinson on behalf of the Race Management Team said: ‘This is my 30th RTI working alongside the ISC and our 170 volunteers and it’s shaping up to be one of the best. After two years of light conditions, the weather this year is looking very good for Saturday and we’re hopeful that we’ll get most of the boats across the finish line before it closes at 2200hrs.’
The official race charity is the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust. Everyone racing or spectating is encouraged to tweet news and images to @roundtheisland using #raceforall.