ROUND THE ISLAND RACE – Almost 1,000 boats have now started, with the fleet led initially by Mike Slade’s 100ft ICAP Leopard and Alex Thomson’s IMOCA 60 Hugo Boss, both powering down the western Solent at speeds of up to 17 knots. By 0535 they were already approaching Yarmouth, nine miles west of the start, with Ben Ainslie’s 45ft America’s Cup catamaran J.P. Morgan BAR, which started 10 minutes after them, poised to pass and take the lead on the water.
Ainslie finally overtook at 0543, on the approach to the Needles. He rounded the lighthouse at 0548 just three minutes outside the multihull record time set by Francis Joyon’s Dexia Eure et Loire in 2001.
All the early starts got away cleanly, with most of the fleets taking the middle/northerly end of line start but after the gun, looking for good tide and clean air. Despite the early hour, the moorings in Cowes are already deserted, with even the latest starters getting set for their start, and the western Solent is now thronging with a mass of sail.
16,000 people, 1459 entries over 11 classes will race around the 50 nautical mile course…check it out above and to follow the race CLICK HERE