The Round the Island Race, which takes place this Saturday 1st July, is a thrilling spectacle and one of the high lights of living on the island. As a non-sailor Karen’s perk is following the race by car and stopping off at strategic points for strengthening with coffee, lunch or ice cream.
The fleet of as many as 1600 yachts set off from Cowes in a staggered start with the fast boats beginning at 5.30am and the less racy types starting later but before 7 am for the 60 nautical mile race.
From The Parade in Cowes and all along the seafront to The Green you have an excellent view of the yachts jostling for position and see and hear the cannon firing from in front of The Royal Yacht Squadron. The fleet set off anti-clockwise around the island heading for the Needles.
In a car you depart for Yarmouth and then on to Colwell Bay for either coffee or an early lunch at The Hut (definitely best to book, 01983 898637). The Hut is an easy-going beach restaurant, serving delicious fresh local food and has sensational views of the Solent.
The boats traditionally get into a terrific melee off the Needles and if you are very energetic you can drive there to watch the crush.
I prefer to head to Saint Catherine’s Point near Ventnor where, weather dependent, you can either picnic sitting on the grassy cliff just along from the light house to see the boats tacking quite close along the shore, or lunch in the gardens of the Buddle Inn ( Tel: 01983 730243) and have a more distant panoramic with your lunch.
Then drive along the winding Bonchurch Road where the driver will have to concentrate on the road but the passengers can get glimpses of blue sea by looking to the right. Wait for the fleet to catch you up when you get to Seaview; ice cream time obviously, and then back to Cowes to greet your intrepid crew in either the beer tent or the famous Pier View pub.
What to Wear
Obviously anything nautical is essential on the day. If you are a hardened yachty-type you will probably shy away from anything that looks remotely new; ancient t-shirts with iconic boat names are the equivalent of a school tie or a pedigree – but in the same way, feigned association with a boat will be derided.
For everyone else it is navy blue or white and faded red and stripes with everything. Here are our suggestions: