More than 880 yachts have so far signed up to the 2017 Round the Island Race (RTIR), which will be taking place on Saturday 1 July with a first start of 05.30.

Race organisers are reporting that entries are coming in steadily and that the number of 882 is on par with previous years when the race has been held a little later in the summer, usually owing to tidal conditions.

There’s still plenty of time to enter with standard entries open until midnight on 17 June.

This one-day annual yachting extravaganza, which has new sponsor Cloudy Bay on board, is expected to attract upwards of 1,500 yachts and 12,000 sailors.

It is organised by the Island Sailing Club in Cowes and circumnavigates the 50nm course westabouts around the coastline of the Isle of Wight.

The boats will cross the start line at Cowes in 11 separate groups, starting every 10 minutes from 0530 until 0710. The boats will pass round the Needles Lighthouse, along the south-west coast of the Island to St. Catherine’s Point and then up across Sandown Bay to round the Bembridge Ledge Buoy. The fleet then makes its way either side of No Man’s Land Fort and across Osborne Bay to the finish line back at Cowes.

Spectators can click here to find details of the best vantage points ashore.

Queen Bee returns

Queen Bee racing in RTI 2015

Queen Bee racing in RTI 2015

Among the competitors taking part will be the Sovereign 35 Mk II yacht Queen Bee, which is competing in this year’s RTIR and raising money for MacMillan Cancer Support.

Queen Bee will be skippered by Simon Smith who is a professional skipper and crewed by Peter Charles and his two younger brothers Christian and Alistair. Christian is an experienced sailor and Alistair is a novice and this will be his first time in a yacht and competing in a race will be quite an experience!

Yacht owner Peter Charles said: ‘In 2015 we raised £2,500 and we are trying to beat it this year.

‘We didn’t make it last year as a refit on Queen Bee overran by three months and I had to have another knee operation.

‘We’re looking forward to the race, Queen Bee came 266th out of 1,583 entries in 2015. We are hoping to beat this, weather permitting.’

Sponsor the Queen Bee crew at

Race entries also include the Farr 52 Bob, entered as Bob by Cloudy Bay, skippered by Stephen Durkin. Amongst the crew this year is Cloudy Bay brand ambassador, adventurer and storyteller, Ben Fogle.

Cloudy Bay brand ambassador Ben Fogle will be competing in this year's race on board the Farr 52 'Cloudy Bay' and will also be a guest at the pre-race press conference in Cowes the day before. Credit: Cloudy Bay/Jack Watson

TV presenter Ben Fogle will be competing in this year’s RTIR. Credit: Cloudy Bay/Jack Watson

Moving from one famous adventurer to the man who discovered the source of the Nile in Rwanda in 2005 under the most horrendous of circumstances, Neil McGrigor from Lymington in Hampshire. He also has several other high profile expeditions under his belt, usually in a rigid inflatable boat but on 1 July will be racing his J/109 BOO, a 35ft cruiser/racer, with nine members of his family on board aged from 16 years up.

Neil said: ‘Most of the crew have never done a race before, let alone the Round the Island Race.  It’s a great opportunity to get the family out together as they mostly believe that it’s all too high powered for the less experienced and generally shy away. We all know that’s not the case and it truly is a race for all as they will find out for themselves. We’re really looking forward to it.’

Getting in a spin

This year’s Round the Island is the maiden voyage for both the yacht Mr Blue Sky, a Hanse 385 and its crew, a mixed bag of guys including a Day Skipper, Coastal Skipper and a Yachtmaster. Also on board they have ex-Gloucestershire and England off spinner, and Chairman of Cricket for The Lords Taveners, Martyn Ball, for his very first taste of yacht racing.

Skipper Adrian Page from Gloucestershire, said: ‘Bally is good friends with all members of the crew, and expressed interest in joining the boat after watching Alex Thomson in the Vendée Globe earlier this year, and feeling the call of the sea grow within him.  We are all set for competing in the ISCRS class, not expecting to be at the front of the pack for the first leg of the race, but will certainly be competing at the bar later, mixing it up with the other crews.’

Race charity will enter four yachts

Ellen MacArthur Trust yacht Moonspray (c) Martin Allen Photography

Ellen MacArthur Trust yacht Moonspray (c) Martin Allen Photography

The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust has been bringing young people in recovery from cancer to take part in the Round the Island Race since 2005.

Since becoming the race official charity partner in 2007, more than £266,000 has been raised, enabling over 470 young people who are recovering from cancer to rebuild their confidence through sailing with the trust.

This year the trust is entering four yachts and providing 28 young people the opportunity to challenge themselves in a safe and supportive environment.