This year’s Round the Isle of Wight yacht race hosted by the ISC at Cowes was probably the best yacht race I have ever taken part in, fact, and I’ve done my fair share. The morning was an early one, we left dock at 05.10 for our 06.30 start, but it was a good one. The sun was already climbing and the breeze was building from the North, possibly the best direction it could for a trip around the Island. The start was frantic with hundreds of boat trying to get the best position but once our race got under way everyone headed off on the long reach for the Needles. The fleet spread out and the crew got competitive “let’s overtake that boat” “watch out for that boat behind” were some of the calls being made by the team, this was before 07.00 in the morning remember! Buster and I had no choice but to get the kite up before the Needles if we were not to face a mutiny, so we hoisted , gybed at the iconic lighthouse, found a lane and were off on a 20knt very powered up leg to St Catherine’s point. Boats broached left right and centre around us but the crew kept it together and we charged to St Cats. A tricky rounding of the point saw plenty of time to refuel with tea and treats that the very hard working shore crew had put together for each team and with sugar levels reaching a peak we rounded Bembridge ledge ready for a lot of tacking. The final leg was a close to the shore tactical tacking battle which had all the crew working hard but we made it to the finish in plenty of time to find a mooring and have some celebratory Gin and Tonics in the cockpit. A great day on the water and a great evening ashore in Cowes was followed by a gentle cruise back to the Hamble the following day with the team getting a chance to pick up some tips and techniques from the Skipper and mate. All in a weekend of action, excitement and a fun learning experience. For 2014 we have a variety of boats available but as usual the berths will be snapped up fast. A good alternative to the RTI – if you can’t make it, or all the spots are filled – try our sailing weekends at Cowes week regatta. Great social sailing experience, good for first timers and the more experienced. If you want to get involved – grab one early!