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Fierce conditions test the crews of Round the Island Race as many retire early

THE latest edition of the historic Round the Island Race was one to remember, with crews battling hard in fierce conditions.

It became particularly treacherous around the Needles, where many sailors wisely chose to retire.

However, it was not all doom and gloom, with Christchurch Sailing Club (CSC) member Duncan Yeabsley being a crew member of the overall winner, Notorious.

Winners Notorious leading the race (Photo: Paul Wyeth)
Winners Notorious leading the race (Photo: Paul Wyeth)

Race director Dave Atkinson said: “This race was a challenge for both the competitors and the race team at the Island Sailing Club, with the safety and well-being of the crews being the main priority.

“We would like to thank the RNLI, independent lifeboats and coastguard teams for their assistance and cooperation before and during the race on Saturday.

“Despite the challenging conditions, we only had nine incidents connected to the race, which is less than previous years; this shows the seamanship of the crews and the correct decision-making that went into undertaking the race.”

The RNLI were on-hand due to the challenging conditions (Photo: Paul Wyeth)
The RNLI were on-hand due to the challenging conditions (Photo: Paul Wyeth)

With the adverse conditions in mind, only three of the Christchurch Sailing Club entries started the race – Keith Ganter’s LouLou, Matt Holloway’s Jester, and Dan Worsley’s Elba – but all three retired before getting to the Needles.

Christchurch Sailing Club’s Keith Ganter said: “With the wind gusting at 38kts, horizontal rain squalls – and some hail thrown in for good measure – it was felt by all to be unsafe and quite honestly not very enjoyable to continue.”

The race safety officer and station manager at Cowes RNLI, Mark Southwell, said: “The sailors who competed made the right call and had a challenging but no doubt enjoyable race they’ll remember.

“Those who cancelled or retired as they sensed conditions approaching the Needles also made the right decision.”

Firebrand passes the Needles (Photo: Paul Wyeth)
Firebrand passes the Needles (Photo: Paul Wyeth)

Peter Morton and his crew, including local sailor Duncan Yeabsley, on TP52 Notorious won the battle for the coveted Gold Roman Bowl and the Observer Trophy for Monohull Line Honours.

Cowes resident Peter, owner and skipper of Notorious, said: “This is one of the world’s greatest races, and every year, I look forward to it.

“I’ve not had the boat that long, but I’ve competed in Round the Island Race many times over the last 50 years in various boats I’ve owned.

“[It] was special and the toughest one I’ve done. It’s been 40 years since I won the Gold Roman Bowl on a little 25ft boat called ‘Odd Job’, which was the smallest boat in the fleet, so this year was very special for me.”

The winning crew Notorious Gold receive the Roman Bowl (Photo: Jo Bowden)
The winning crew Notorious Gold receive the Roman Bowl (Photo: Jo Bowden)

Duncan Yeabsley commented: “It was a lot of fun, certainly the fastest I’ve been with just a jib and main up. I think we topped out at 30kts boat speed near St Catherines.

“The team did a great job of getting the boat around safely and in one piece.”

The first boat to cross the finish line was the multihull Highland Fling 18, which completed the race in three hours, 39 minutes and five seconds to win the Freedom Challenge Bowl (Line Honours for Multihull Grand Prix and MOCRA Racing Classes).

Irvine Laidlaw, owner and helm of Highland Fling 18, said: “It was the first event for us in 2024, and we’ve travelled over 3,000 miles from Palma to be here, but it’s worth it!

“I thoroughly enjoyed the race – it is such a great race, and I like the fact we go around an island with the start and finish in the same place; it’s rather satisfying.”

Freedom Challenge Bowl winner Highland Fling 18 (Photo: Paul Wyeth)
Freedom Challenge Bowl winner Highland Fling 18 (Photo: Paul Wyeth)

Race organisers thanked race partners B&G, Helly Hansen and Chelsea Magazines.

The 2025 edition of the race will be on 21st June.

For more information, images and videos from the day, visit roundtheisland.org.uk or search @roundtheisland and #RoundTheIsland on social media.

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