Up to 1,600 entries for the Isle of Wight circuit

Almost 1,600 yachts, including some of the top names in British sailing, have already entered for this year’s Round The Island Race, around the Isle of Wight, on Saturday 22 June 2002.

The big multi-hulls and grand prix yachts, will cross the start line in front of the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes at 8.30am. The bulk of the fleet will start between 9am and 10am.

Many of the skippers taking part in the race – arguably the biggest yacht race in the world and often dubbed the London Marathon of yachting – have sailed the course before and know the ropes.

But for new entrants and the less experienced, organisers the Island Sailing Club have issued top tips for skippers.

Top Tips for Skippers:

1. Tip number one, important throughout the race, is to be aware of what other boats around you are doing. This is important on the very busy start line and throughout the race. This year the waiting areas for boats to the north of the start line has been moved slightly to the east, to keep boats away from the busy start line. There will be two waiting areas, for boats awaiting their class starts, one north of the line and one to the south. For the first time, the sailing instructions will carry a reminder for boats to use the waiting areas.

2. Once clear of the start, the first leg of the race from Cowes westwards down The Solent to The Needles involves a lot of overtaking and classes will catch up and become more mixed. David Atkinson, Vice-Commodore of the Island Sailing Club and Chief Race Officer for the eighth consecutive year, again warns of the need for competitors to be aware of what other boats are doing.

3. As boats approach The Needles, skippers should keep clear of Goose Rock north west of The Needles and the Varvassi Wreck to the west of The Needles. At The Needles there is a tendency to cut the corner. Experienced competitors know to sail on until the top of the lighthouse appears level with the bottom of the old coastguard station. it is then safe to go round the corner. A useful book to read is Peter Bruce’s Solent Hazards. It is also important to be aware of the close tacking duels which go on around The Needles, as skippers jockey for position for the next leg.

4. There is usually a strong reach or run down the back of the Island. But skippers are warned to mindful for the overfall at St Catherine’s Point and Dunnose Head. Boats with spinnakers up may broach in these conditions.

5. The only mark in the Round The Island Race is Bembridge Ledge buoy, a cardinal buoy. This is another congested point in the race and it is also important to look out for ferries in and out of Portsmouth.

6. Tacking round No Man’s Land fort is another very busy stage of the race. All skippers should be aware of the wind shadow in the lee of the forts and the likely foul tide

7. Ryde Sands has been the doom of many a Round The Island sailor. Do keep well out to avoid going aground. “After that it is just the final leg back to Cowes,” said David Atkinson. “Do have a nice day – and do make sure you finish on the correct finish line, consult your sailing instructions to make sure you know this.”

8. Race officers will be listening on radio channel 37, coastguard is channel 16 and the race organisers will have two big RIBs following the fleet round the Island.