Tops tips to watch the Round the Island Race by boat

Here’s our Top Tips to watch the iconic Round the Island Race on Saturday 29 June. The Race starts early in the morning from Cowes, heads to the Needles, then down the southside of the Island to St Catherines Point, up to Bembridge Ledge buoy, then back to Cowes.

It’s great fun day out to watch on the water and an exceptional sight to see. With over 1500 boats racing hard on the water, it’s important to stay clear of the competitors so that everyone has a lovely day.

  1. Starts take place off the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes between 0730 and 0910.
  2. The start line runs between a buoy near W Bramble cardinal mark and the Squadron. Stay well away from the start line and either side of it as the racing yachts will be lining up here.
  3. Where to watch from – hovering North / N West of the West Bramble cardinal is a good place to see the starts. Beware of competitors manoeuvring in the 10 minute gaps between race starts.  They may head your way as part of their timed run to the starts.
  4. Head west towards Hurst Castle to follow the fleet. The race boats will likely stay in the main channel for the tide. So stick to either the North or South shores. 
  5. Try to go behind boats that are racing and avoid giving them a lot of wash. The impact of the bad wake can be the difference between winning and losing a race!
  6. It’s always fun to watch the boats going round the Needles. But a tricky place to navigate whether cruising or racing. Do check your charts and watch for shallows. Especially Goose Rock if you plan to get close up to the Lighthouse.
  7. Follow the Race down the back of the Island or head back up the Solent to meet them coming the other way.  Colwell Bay, Yarmouth, Cowes Ballistic RIBs Top Tips to Watch Round the Island Raceand Osbourne Bay are good stopping places for a late breakfast or lunch.
  8. The fastest boats which start early, are likely to be coming back up the Solent from early lunchtime.
  9. Meet the fleet at Bembridge Ledge Buoy or No Mans Land Fort. If the spinnakers are up it’s quite a spectacle to see.
  10. Have a great day out, but do remember power gives way to sail, and the competitors will be focused on their racing.  Try to give them the space they need as they may change direction at any time.
  11. Head into Cowes afterwards and enjoy the fun ashore. There’ll be entertainments, bars and bands.
  12. Check out the Round the Island Race Spectator Guide too for more details on the race area, exclusion zones and where to go.
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