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SSW Race Review: Gul Osprey Round the Island Race 2018

On the 15th September, an intrepid group of 9 Ospreys headed out to sea to race around the Isle of Wight. This historic event marked boat builder Ian Proctor's centenary year. 65 years ago, Proctor himself won the Queen's Coronation Round the Island Race in 1953 by just a second, pipping 300 of the country's finest dinghy sailors to the post. This year's event is the first Osprey Round the Island Race to take place in 30 years. Sailing Southwest were thrilled to support this historic race with TracAce, our GPS boat tracking system. TracAce provided vital assistance to the race team, helping them monitor the live positions of each of the competitors throughout the 8.5hour race from the support boats, whilst spectators were able to follow the action from the shore.

Race Report by Sailing Southwest: The 9 intrepid Ospreys left Lymington Town Sailing Club shortly after 6am on the race day, ready for a 07.15 race start. It was a beautiful but brisk morning with decent breezes that would hopefully propel them around the Isle of Wight in a single day’s sailing.

They headed off in a westerly direction, heading for the Needles. Mick Greenland with Lee Marriott took an early lead on this first leg, reaching the Needles in less than 45 minutes. Greenland & Marriott rounded the ‘mark’ ahead of Alex & Nick Willis and George & Harry Odling. The fleet then divided, with 5 boats staying close to the shore, whilst the leaders took a route further out to sea.

The fleet converged once more as they approached St Catherine's point, the southern most tip of the Island. They rounded the point well bunched together after 2.5hours of racing. This time Ken Brown & Jonathan Osgood were marginally in the lead. As they passed Ventnor and then up to Shanklin on the east of the island, the majority of the Ospreys reached their peak speeds in the race, with Viola and Michael Scott clocking in at 12.1kn!

At Bembridge, there was still very little separation at the head of the fleet. The Willis’ appeared to make the turn first at 11.47, but Terry Curtis & Peter Greig, George & Harry Odling and Alex Mamwell & Arthur Butler were all right there with them. This was approximately the halfway point, reached in just 4 hours, which was significantly faster than anticipated.

On the way home now, the Ospreys continued past Ryde Pier, with Oscar Chess and David Downs now at the front after a short cut over Ryde Sands. After 5 hours of racing, there was still so little between the boats, with just over 3 minutes separating the first and last of the fleet as they passed the pier head!

So, onto Cowes and the final ‘turn’ for home. Once more, the fleet split, with Greenland & Marriott, Chess & Downs, the Willis’s, and Russ Wheeler & Mark Mahwinney all taking the northern route up to the Southampton coast. Brown & Osgood, Mamwell & Butler, Curtis and Grieg, the Odlings and the Scotts all opted to stay close to the island. It seemed as though the southern path was marginally quicker, but as the fleet came together once more, the race remained close, and the final sprint to Lymington was very much on!

After 7 hours on the water and Lymington practically in sight, Curtis & Greig finally opened up a bit of a lead over the Odlings and Mamwell & Butler. They held on for the remainder of the race, arriving into Lymington harbour at 15:42:21, after 08:27:21 of racing. The Odlings finished 2nd in 08:29:58, whilst Mamwell & Butler took 3rd in 08:31:44. Remarkably, the entire fleet finished the 100km race all within 14mins of each other! It was a truly amazing race that demonstrated the grit, skill and stamina of these fantastic sailors and their Ospreys. Surely this race will be remembered as a fitting testament to the tight finish in Ian Proctor’s 1953 Round the Island Race win.

Click here to visit the Webpage for this race with full results, statistics and links to videos and race tracks via TracAce.

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