Round the Island Race 2023
July 11th, 2023
The challenging weather conditions posed a significant test for the 1,100 boat fleet embarking from the Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes on Saturday (8th July) morning. Every moment of the exhilarating racecourse around the Isle of Wight tested the fleet’s spirit and skill. Claiming the sought-after Gold Roman Bowl as the top-performing boat overall was Christian Zugel’s TSCHUSS 2 (based at Berthon), a Volvo 70 that completed the race in an impressive time of 4 hours, 11 minutes, and 18 seconds.
Berthons own Hugh Rayner, Herbie Hill-Reid and Declan Clamp all set sail, ready to take on the elements. With a beat to the needles, kites were up across St Kats; the race-tested even the most competent sailors.
Hugh’s tales of the race
“We were thrilled to sail in IRC Group 1C, and represent Christchurch Sailing Club for the 2023 Round The Island Race. We regularly sail on the super-beamy Pogo 30 LOULOU , owned by the wonderful Mr Keith Ganter (who kindly buys us sails if we keep the onboard catering running smoothly), and we had a cracking time. We had an 08:00 start with the big boys and carried reasonable speed up the challenging beat, battling a constant 18 kts TWS up the Solent – but she’s not an upwind hull! We had one reef in the main, went big up forward, and had some great tacking battles as we headed out through Hurst. Determined to gain an edge, we chose a close route around the Needles, with Keith navigating the gusty conditions with skill and precision.
Once round and heading East, we unleashed our big asymmetric and stamped on the loud button. We had a couple of 35 kt gusts which drove LOULOU to our top speed of 17.35 knots down some great waves. The boat feels super-planted and completely controllable when the pressure is on, and we enjoyed a cup of tea and a sandwich at St. Cat’s – although our foredeck warrior/galley boy Iain was not the happiest during one hairy surf. We think he said, “I CANNOT WORK IN THESE CONDITIONS!” as he braced at the bottom of the companionway, but the bread and cheese kept coming! The competition was fierce as we engaged in a thrilling tussle with a range of boats, from a Swan 651 to a Jeanneau 3600 and the J70 boys, who were on full send. Celebrating a well-executed gybe near Bembridge, we dropped the assy (dry!) and opened a congratulatory beer. However, as we sailed up the island shore, our elation was met with a challenging leg against a very gusty strong breeze (just for a change).
At the end of the race, we were pleased to achieve 12th place in our class and an overall position of 109th. It was an incredible accomplishment, especially as we set a new speed record for LOULOU (which made us all very happy). It was an amazingly varied Round The Island Race, and I can say that the sea conditions were amongst the most bewildering I’ve ever encountered. Can’t wait for the 2024 race & that elusive 18 knots!”
Herbie recalls the race aboard
“It was blowing 23kts constant for most of the day. I was doing foredeck and tactics for an international Folkboat called FRK FRYD. We won our class and came 7th overall in ISC. I saw many shredded sails and boats in distress around the island’s south side. Apparently, they had 18 MOBs! Fortunately, with the folkboat having a deep keel, I was able to fly the kite from the Needles channel right the way round to Bembridge Ledge buoy. We had a 2m following sea from St. Katherine’s Point and, bizarrely, a 20° wind shift near the Bembridge Ledge buoy. That caught a lot of people out! Overall it’s a pretty brutal race, especially for the smaller boats with fewer people racing the boat.“
We take pride in having avid sailors racing in such a prominent event, and everyone is undoubtedly looking forward to next year’s race.