This weekend, the Isle of Wight is gearing up for the 87th Round the Island Race. The first race took place way back in 1931 and was the brainchild of Major Cyril Windeler from the Island Sailing Club. What started out as a race with only 25 entries, has today grown into one of the biggest yacht races in the world and is a participatory event whose numbers surpass even the London Marathon. And it all takes place here on our little Island!
Getting a good view is key, but it can be hard to find a spot that isn’t too busy, unless you know where to look. Check out our guide of the lesser-known spots to watch the race unfold that (hopefully) won’t be too crowded…
Early birds can see the race kick off in Cowes, but for those in the know, head down the little ally that runs alongside Gurnard Sailing Club, which opens out into a small, but nearly always empty beach. Sit on a rock for the best view. Take a flask for your morning cuppa, or pop into local cafe, The Watersedge for some race-day fuel.
The West Wight have some great spots to see the spectacle unfold, but for a view without the bustle, combine a walk along Bouldner Forest to the coast where the unspoilt backdrop provides a great picnic spot. You will need to be here between 8-10am to catch the best of it.
Rather than sitting in the Needles Viewpoint carpark with all the other spectators, why not take a walk up Tennyson Down where you will have the vantage of watching them round the corner and all the way along towards Compton Bay. A beautiful spot on any day, it is a unique sight to see, looking down on all the boats passing by – just don’t step too close to the edge!
Rather than join the crowds at St Catherine’s Lighthouse, park up in St Lawrence and take drive up Old Blackgang Road to the carpark at Windy Corner and take a quick climb up the hill for unrivalled views across the Channel.
Most head to Culver Down for it’s far reaching views, but why not watch from the lesser visited Forelands Beach in Bembridge. Get a table at The Crab and Lobster or The Beach Hut and enjoy a lunch whilst you watch the race.
Appley Beach is not known as a great spot for watch the race, but in fact, it can be where a lot of the drama takes place! Here is where yachts will be if they get too close to land or run aground on the many sandbanks.
For the finisher, why not combine a day at Osborne in East Cowes with a fantastic ‘royal’ view of the race. After looking around the Italianate palace, take a walk down to Queen Victoria’s private beach to see the boats just before they arrive at the finish line in Cowes. This could be any time between 10am and 10pm depending on how the race is going, so it is worth keeping up with all the goings on online.