'Lively Lady' and 'Suhaili' will join the expected 1,600 entries on the Round the Island startline

Cutting a dash on the startline with their more hi-tech sisters, two fine old ladies of the sea will join this year’s Round the Island Race on Saturday 26 June. The world famous ‘Lively Lady’ and ‘Suhaili’ will join the expected 1,600 entries racing round the Isle of Wight in this classic yachting event.

It was in July 1968 that Southsea greengrocer Alec Rose returned to Portsmouth after completing his epic round the world voyage, sailing the pale blue, 36ft ketch ‘Lively Lady’. On his 28,500 mile solo trip round the globe he had made two stops and been at sea 354 days. The following year Robin Knox-Johnston brought ‘Suhaili’ back to Falmouth, following his single-handed circumnavigation but, this time, non-stop. 312 days earlier he had been the third of nine yachts to set sail, hoping to win the Sunday Times Golden Globe Trophy. Although described as a ‘tortoise among the hares’ at the time, ‘Suhaili’ was the only yacht to finish.

Both boats were built in India and perhaps it is their rugged teak or teak and paduak construction that enables them to be in constant use today. ‘Lively Lady’ is now owned by a Portsmouth-based trust and regularly crewed, as she will be for the Round the Island Race, by disadvantaged young adults – a scheme started by Sir Alec. ‘Suhaili’ underwent a full refit three years ago and is now based at the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall. Sir Robin competed in the 2003 Round the Island Race in ‘Suhaili’, the crew including his brother Chris, who helped to bring the boat back from India in 1963.