The course looks just the same but the race is without a title sponsor for the first time in several years

In the absence of a title sponsor, this year’s Round the Island Race, the 66th, takes place on 22 June with the assistance of several race partners – Ocean World, Red Funnel, Champagne Mumm and MDL among them – with promotion from Isle of Wight Tourism.

The 50-mile circumnavigation of the Isle of Wight is always a big attraction. Entries range from the corporate and Corinthian to the cutting edge. Many family cruisers dig out their racing pennants for none other than this classic race, first run in 1931 and won on that occasion by Peter Brett’s converted fishing boat “Merry Conceit.”

Last year’s edition witnessed the record-breaking return of British Olympic medallist Rodney Pattisson. Having held the record since 1986 when he blazed around the course in the Adrian Thompson-designed trimaran Paragon, Pattisson returned with Europe1 NewMan STAR 2000 winner Francis Joyon on his 60ft trimaran Dexia Eure et Loir. They rocketed round in 3h 8m 29s at an average speed of 15.9 knots.

The fastest trip round was made in November last year by Steve Fossett’s Transatlantic record-breaking maxicatamaran PlayStation. Fresh from snatching the North Atlantic’s holy grail of sail – the west-east (Ambrose Light-The Lizard) passage record – from Serge Madec’s Jet Services V, PlayStation proceeded to cruise round the Isle of Wight in 2h 33m 55s, at an average speed of just under 20 knots.

Mike Slade also made hay last year, making it round in 4h 5m 40s in his GBR Challenge-crewed 90ft Reichel/Pugh refined rocketship Skandia Leopard. He took over an hour off the previous monohull record and several other boats, including GBR Challenge’s 2000-generation ACC boat GBR-44, beat the previous record of 5h 12m 3s, set by Slade’s previous maxi Ocean Leopard.

Organisers expect an entry list of almost 2,000 boats with 12,000 sailors taking part. Previous participants will know that few sights can compare with the view astern as the fleet broad reaches across Freshwater Bay – that of a horizon completely obscured by rainbow swatches of spinnaker cloth. It’s so spectacular that the following day’s broadsheets almost always include a shot of the fleet bearing down on The Needles, along with full results and reports.

Entry forms will be available from 1 March 2002. For more information, contact the Island Sailing Club on 01983-296621, e-mail the ISC on or check out the website at