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JP Morgan Round the Island Race

J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race

What - One of the largest yacht races in the world - around the Isle of Wight
When - Saturday 01 July 2017
Where - Starting from Cowes, Isle of Wight

About Round the Island Race

The annual J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race is the largest race of its kind with around 16,000 professional and amateur sailors, including some unlikely celebrities vying to get their yachts around the racetrack and across the finish line in pole position. The annual J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race is a one-day yacht race around the Isle of Wight organised by the Island Sailing Club.

In recent years it has attracted over 1,700 boats, making it one of the largest yacht races in the world and combined with the vast number of sailors the fourth largest participation sporting event in the UK after the London Marathon and the Great North and South Runs.

Enticing competitors from all around the world the Round the Island Race attracts entries from all manner of boats from classic yachts to modern racing vessels bristling with the latest technology.

The J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race Route takes the 1,800 entries westwards through the challenging Needles channel, south towards St. Catherine's point and then back round to the finish line off the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes.

The sheer number and variety of the yachts participating makes this event a fantastic spectator sport with some great vantage points off Cowes, Sconce Point, The Needles, St Catherine's Point, Ventnor, Bonchurch, Culver Down and Ryde Pier.

Best place to watch the race!

The first start is at 05.00 and they continue at ten minute intervals until 06.40am. The best place to see the start of the race is Princes Parade on Cowes seafront as they leave the starting line outside the Royal Yacht Squadron and if conditions require it they will be hoisting their spinnakers as they pass you.

The Island Sailing Club offer breakfast at the club from 06.45am till 7.30am. Next breakfast stop for race watchers is the Watersedge at Gurnard, opposite Gurnard Sailing Club and right next to the beach. There is a long window frontage to the side of the café with views down towards Cowes. Walk further along from here and you reach the Little Gloster that sits right on the seafront with far reaching views across the Solent. With a great brunch menu (check out the eggs Benedict) and lots of outside seating, relax for the morning and watch an uninterrupted view of the yachts as they race along towards the West Wight.

Yarmouth is probably the next best place to see the yachts and things might be starting to get exciting at this point as they move towards the open sea. Watch from the Green and small beach that borders the sea on Tennyson Road as you enter from the east or from Yarmouth Pier in the town. If you want to sit and sip a long cold drink you could take up residence in the George Hotel’s garden. It is the Old Gaffers Festival this weekend in Yarmouth so it will be rammed with people. On the up side there is loads to do and see, with live music and entertainment so you could stay for the day.

Fort Victoria is the next good vantage point along the coast. You can walk along the rocky beach, following the yachts for a fair way if the tide is out. Other good vantage points on the north-western coast are Colwell Bay and Totland Bay – check out the newly opened The Hut in Colwell Bay for prime position and a great coffee. One of the best vantage points is the tip of the Needles downland and the Needles Old Battery serve breakfast for the Round the Island Race day from 6am till 11am. Normal admission charges apply and breakfast is extra. Walk along Tennyson Down from here and you could follow the fleet to the next bay, which will be Freshwater.

The Dandelion Café at Freshwater Bay is a great place to see the yachts as they pass through its large picture windows with views down to the sea. Or you could take a seat on the sea wall and get an ice-cream from the Freshwater Bay Tearooms. Most of the Military Road that runs from Freshwater to Blackgang is set back from the coast but you can park at various spots and walk across the fields to the cliff edge. Compton is an ideal spot and has a large National Trust car park, Brook gives a good view and has a smaller parking area and a rugged pathway to the beach, although you can also walk to the edge of the cliff.

Viewpoint car park at Blackgang will be a great place to see the race and the last before you get to Ventnor seafront, unless you make your way down to St Catherine’s Lighthouse or the old Blackgang Road. Ventnor is an ideal place as you can see the boats from the top of the downs, all the way down to the seafront where there are several pubs, restaurants and cafes and, of course, the beach.

From here you can follow the race along the Bay area to Culver with loads of stopping points along Shanklin, Sandown and Yaverland beaches. Drive up to the top of Culver Cliff and you have a panoramic view of the yachts passing the eastern most point of the Island. Bembridge Ledge, Lane End and Bembridge Beach are all good outlook posts and all have cafes and/or pubs.

Follow the fleet from here along the coast and watch while you eat, drop into the Priory Bay Hotel for lunch at their newly opened Boathouse right on the beach (booking essential) or carry on round to the next village of Seaview for something special at the Seaview Hotel. Further along the coast Puckpool Ryde seafront has ice cream vendors and cafes, including the wonderful Chocolate Apothecary.

Access to the coast is more restricted from Ryde to East Cowes although you can get a glimpse at the end of Fishbourne Lane. Best move is to go to East Cowes seafront and see the yachts coming over the finishing line without the hoards of people who will be over in Cowes, although there will be shoreside entertainment and a great atmosphere in Cowes on the day.

2014 Race Promo Video

2011 Round the Island Race Timelapse Video

Key Race Facts

  • The course is 63.3 miles long and starts and ends off Cowes.
  • The first race in 1931 attracted 25 yachts.
  • In 2011 the race was the fourth largest annual participation sporting event in the UK, attracting over 1,800 yachts and 16,000 sailors.
  • During his term as Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Edward Heath, MBE, MP won the race a record four times.
  • The multihull record is 3 hours 8 minutes and 29 seconds and the monohull record is 3 hours, 53 minutes and 5 seconds.
  • Live mobile phone GPS tracking was introduced in 2010.
  • The official race charity is the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.
  • Red Funnel has been an official race partner since 2000

Official Website

To find out more about the JPMorgan Asset Management Round the Island Race visit the official website.

Official Website...

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Southampton <> West Cowes, Isle of Wight

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