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Ospreys prepare for Proctor Centenary Round The Isle of Wight race

by Alan Henderson 12 Sep 19:30 BST 15-16 September 2018
David Unsworth heads past The Needles lighthouse with the last of the morning breeze © William Payne

An intrepid group of Ospreys are about to head out to race 65 miles around the Isle of Wight. The race takes place on the weekend of 15th & 16th September, and this historic event will mark Ian Proctor's Centenary year.

65 years ago, Ian 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.

Since then the Osprey Class have undertaken two further Round The Isle of Wight races, one on the 25th Anniversary on 1978, and again in 1988.

In 1978 the race was shortened part way around due to light winds, but in 1988, 13 Ospreys successfully completed the full course, demonstrating again the speed and seaworthiness of this very fine Ian Proctor design.

Fast forward another 30 years and that takes us to 2018. The Osprey class remains in great shape 30 years later, and the design remains just as capable of undertaking long passages. And so this year there will be a 65th anniversary race, celebrating the Ian Proctor Centenary.

Round The Island races or voyages are usually just for yachts, but the big, powerful Osprey is also capable of undertaking this testing, all day long passage. The voyage will require skippers and crews to carefully plan the changing tidal currents, and to have the ability to squeeze the most out of either very light, or brisk breezes. The dates have been picked for favourable tides, and present day Osprey sailors will be on their mettle to beat the impressive 1988 winning time of 7 hours 52 minutes. That winning time was set by Oscar Chess, who will be sailing in this year's event, defending a title won 30 years ago.

This year for the first time, the class will have the benefit of the latest modern technology, thanks to the kind support of Sailing Southwest with their TracAce™ GPS boat tracking system. TracAce™ will assist with the safety of the competitors and the management of the race. Spectators will be able to monitor the progress and watch replays of this event via a link from the Sailing Southwest website.

The boats will launch from Lymington Town Sailing Club at around 6am on the morning of the race. The race will be on Saturday 15th, failing which on Sunday 16th if adverse weather. The exact day will be announced at 2000 on the Friday 14th at the briefing at Lymington Town SC. Race start will be at 7am. It is expected that most boats should finish within 10-11 hours. This year, 10 boats are expected to take part, and the fleet will be accompanied by a group of RIBs and a large yacht, acting as the Race Communications centre.

The event may be followed on Sailing Southwest Facebook page or on www.sailingsw.co.uk/osprey-round-island-race. The title sponsor is Gul Wetsuits.

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