Taking place on Saturday 7th of July around the Isle of Wight is the famous Round the Island Race. Sailing’s answer to the London Marathon, thousands of people flock to the coast every year to watch over 1,600 boats race around the island’s beautiful coastline.
Dating back to the 1930s, the race welcomes some of the biggest names in sailing (including Olympic medalist Ben Ainslie), alongside amateur sailors from many different countries. With over 16,000 sailors taking to the sea, it’s one of the largest yacht races in the world, and is the fourth largest participating sporting event in the UK.
Starting at the vibrant town of Cowes, the yachts race around the Needles Lighthouse, along the South West Coast to St Catherine’s Point, and then up to Bembridge Ledge, before finishing the race back at Cowes.
For those looking to get the best views of this iconic event, here at Parkdean Resorts, we’ve put together some of our favourite spectating hot spots around the Isle of Wight.
Video sourced from Carkeek Design Partners
Although there are many great places to watch the Round the Island Race, the start and finish point of Cowes is undoubtedly one of the best. Watch thousands of boats set sail as you immerse yourself in the exciting atmosphere - and cheer for the sailors as they cross the finish line on their return.
If you decide to watch the race from the coast of Cowes, then races will be starting here between 5.30am and 7.10am, and the boats will be due to finish anytime from 9.30am right up until 10pm.
If you fancy taking a break from the race, the picturesque harbour town of Cowes won’t disappoint. Just 15 minutes from Thorness Bay Holiday Park, there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained. The seaside town boasts a range of museums, including the Maritime Museum, the Wight Military and Heritage Museum and the Sir Max Aitken Museum.
Video sourced from Round the Island Race
St Catherine’s Lighthouse
If you’re staying at Lower Hyde Holiday Park, then you’re just 20 minutes from the most southern point of the Isle of Wight. St Catherine’s Point is a spectacular part of the island, surrounded by beautiful cliffs, fantastic woodland and some of the most stunning coastal views in Britain.
The competitors are set to pass St Catherine’s Point between 9am and 1pm, so you can spend the summer’s morning sitting on the cliffs, watching the boats sail by. You can’t park at the lighthouse itself, but you can park at the top of St Catherine’s Road and walk down the lane. Alternatively, park at the Bundle Inn car park and follow the sign posted footpath. Once you’ve cheered on the sailors, take a guided tour of the lighthouse itself - where you’ll discover the history behind one of the oldest lighthouses in Britain.
The walk to the lighthouse is known as the Wight Walk, and is a great route to take if you’re looking for a leisurely stroll. There’s also the Monk and the Merchant Walk, where you’ll pass the historic Hay Monument and hopefully see plenty of local marine wildlife, including dolphins, seals and even orcas if you’re lucky!
Video sourced from SafeSite IOW
Bembridge and Culver Downs
The area surrounding Bembridge and Culver Downs is absolutely breathtaking - as the sweeping coastal views give you a sense of peace and tranquility that you don’t get in many other places.
Just over 15 minutes from Nodes Point Holiday Park, the competitors will pass this checkpoint between 10am and 3.30pm. If you’re a keen walker then you’ll love it here, with plenty of scenic walking trails to keep you entertained. Whether you want a rugged hike over the RSPB Brading Marshes, or a fairly flat walk along the top of the Downs taking in the history of the island, there’s something for everyone.
While you’re in the area, a trip to Bembridge Fort is a must. Built in the 1860s, you’ll get the opportunity to explore the fort - while volunteers tell you the stories of its fascinating past. The Isle of Wight Zoo is also just under 10 minutes away from Culver Downs. Here, you’ll get to see a variety of animals from all over the world, including tigers, monkeys and lions. Whatever you decide to do, a trip to Bembridge and Culver Downs will make a great day out for the whole family.
Video sourced from Neelesh