2017 RIOW Race
A fast and, for some, furious solo epic around the Isle of Wight

Over 30 boats lined up to start the 2017 solo RIOW Race around the Isle of Wight. Always one of the SORC seasons favourite races, 2017 did not disappoint and tested the abilities of the intrepid solo sailors!


Jeremy Waitt - Jangada - JPK 1010 - THE WINNER!!

I came into the race without a huge amount of preparation as the only way I could persuade my girlfriend to take part was to promise to help her (Claire Dresser on Lady Penrose). So I focused specifically on options for the Needles to St Cat’s leg. I always felt this would be the key to doing well in the race.

I was very lucky to have some shore side support but just before the start I was still in preparation mode rigging for the needles leg and almost ran out of time. Hoisting my jib very late and not really having everything ready.

I decided last minute not to go for a Starboard line attempt as I felt it was too high risk to complete a tack so soon after the start. It also meant I could go close to the shore where my kids were holding up a ‘Go Dad’ banner.

In the last minute the boats on Starboard were early, leaving room and I was well placed to take the pin on Port and get clear air. It was a great start to the race but soon enough I found myself covering Nigel on Fastrak. It was a battle all the way up and Nigel took the lead when I took a poor shift toward Yarmouth.

Hurst – Needles - I creeped back ahead on a few tacks whilst preparing to hoist a furling Jib Top. I soon realised that my Jib halyard was caught around the Spinnaker eyelet locking all my other halyards to the mast. After five back and forths onto the foredeck and several bruising slips I lowered the Jib, freed the halyard and eventually hoisted the Jib top only 500m from the Lighthouse. As soon as I rounded I unfurled and lowered the heavy Jib and set to hoist the staysail.

The combination felt really-fast and I managed to get some good surfing - up to 11knts. I was finally pulling away from Fastrak. As the tide built and the wind grew the combo felt better and better. I prepared the S2 for as soon as I passed St Cat’s although I knew it was going to be tight, I hoisted. A little on the edge Jangada felt powered up and I was holding ground against Bellino (Sunfast 3600). As the wind built further to 24-26knts I was holding a lower course and realised I might not need a gybe. This caused issue as I had already reset the Jib top and Staysail on the port side ready for the next leg.

I managed to make enough room to slip a short gybe in and seeing Bellino go a little wide saw an opportunity to get in front. The gybe didn’t go well and only half a mile from Bembridge ledge the spinnaker wrapped around the forestay, the jib halyard and the Jib top. It looked really bad and for a moment I thought I may need longer to get it out leaving me sailing past BL buoy!  I pulled the sheet a few times and thankfully with much relief it untwisted and popped back. I had no time to unfurl the Jib Top and get the kite down.

I rounded almost alongside Bellino with him just in front. Hoisting the staysail gave me a little more power and it allowed me to keep close. The wind puffed up and Chris on Ding Dong, who was leading, slipped a reef in but within a mile the wind had dropped to 12knts and Ding Dong had to get it out quick. 

On the final leg I knew Amy Lou in class two was in a good position so had to keep working in the gusts. With Bellino and Ding Dong taking a very inshore approach to Osbourne bay I felt keeping out would give some better breeze and, whilst it did pay, I couldn’t catch them. 

I crossed the line a few minutes after Bellino. I was certain I had won class one but knew the overall was always going to tough. So it was a great surprise to win and having the kids there to share my success made the end to a great day’s sailing. 

I can’t thank Richard Palmer enough for trusting me with Jangada for the day and in reality it’s his diligence and pre-race analysis that made this a team Jangada win. Feels like ‘one all’ with Fastrak now and I hear it won’t be long before a few more boats have Jib tops which is great. The level and quality of sailing at the moment is making for exciting racing. However, it’s nice to be on top just for once!  Thanks for all the kind comments from other competitors on congratulating the win. 


Rob Craigie – Bellino – Sun Fast 3600

Another great RIOW (Round the Isle of Wight) race was enjoyed by all on Saturday 20th May.

There were 33 entries and with an even split between Class 1 and Class 2 it was one of the biggest in the race history. It was certainly the fastest with all finishers completing the 50-mile course within 7.5 hours. Claire Dresser in Lady Penrose (Class 3) looks very pleased with her time on the Face Book pic with Jeremy Waitt (Jangada) the overall and Class 1 winner.

The forecast of mostly SW winds up to 20kts and gusty got nervous adrenaline running through a lot of skipper’s veins. Although this was more benign than forecasts earlier in the week it was still a challenge. A beat to the Needles with the tide saw Rob Craigie (Bellino) pull a useful lead in Class 1 by the time he passed the Needles and bore away towards St Caths.

Gary Heward (Amy Lou) and Tony Rowe (Fantasea) elected to route close to the Island to take advantage of the back eddy while the majority straight lined it to St Caths. A quick glance at the AIS and boat speeds and positions looked as they should be. No sign of anyone flying a Code zero. OK maybe the wind is a bit gusty but let’s try the Zero on Bellino. Hoist, bear away, unroll – problem, the sail only unrolled part way. Swear. Bear away more. Drop flogging sail onto foredeck and secure. Come up onto heading. Look at AIS. Yup , confirmed that was not a good idea. Look again and Jangada is storming along under a jib top.

I am still new to symmetric kites so being a cautious type (Ed- what?) I took my time hoisting the S3 after St Caths. Looking behind I could see the symmetric kites of Jangada and Chris Rustom (Ding Dong) closing the gap. No matter I will make a perfect drop then gybe and reach into Bembridge. Ok so it was a good drop just rather late so I ended up close hauled to the mark.  Ding Dong was ahead at Bembridge with Jangada close behind.

With just a close fetch we had an exhilarating tussle to the finish. Skirting close to Ryde Sands, Ding Dong felt the sand through his 2.5m keel before heading out of the tide along the Island shore. Just after Norris Bellino passed Ding Dong and held the lead to gain a hard-fought Line Honours.

Dave Giddens was viewing the finish line at Snowdon and confirmed the finish times. The only skipper to enter a finish time that concurred with Dave was Charles Emmett (British Beagle). Hats off to Charles for his timing accuracy.

The after-race dinner was held as usual in the Island Sailing Club. Here the club generously let us use the Beken Room for the prize giving before we adjourn to the restaurant for an excellent repast.


George Isted - Concerto - Contessa 32

Always my favourite race of the year, the 2017 SORC RIOW was even more important to me as I had done rather well the previous year and wanted to prove that was no fluke. There were two key boats to beat if possible, Will’s “Elmarleen” (Sigma 33C) which has the same rating as Concerto and another Contessa 32 “Panache”.

Having managed a reasonable start and able to take an early tack onto port I was kicking myself that the reef put in prior to the start had been taken out in a pre-start lull.  Concerto was now overpowered and as the fleet beat to the west I struggled to keep up with Elmarleen who was going very well despite having just been launched a few days earlier. The Class 1’s sailed through as Concerto closed and passed through the Hurst narrows and I marvelled at how little genoa grinding is needed on the fractionally rigged 3200 and 3600 Sunfasts.

At the Needles I made-up ground on Elmarleen by safely rounding inside the wreck, a safe and straightforward shortcut once you have eye-balled Goose rock. With the wind just forward of the beam the A0 was quickly launched and a rapid if occasionally exciting ride was had down to St Cat’s, both hands on the tiller and dumping the main to keep the boat under the mast in the gusts.  Passing St Cat’s and heading east to Ventnor I could see Will catching having launched his Spinnaker so down with the A0 and up with the large Symetric kite on Concerto, this slowed the closing of the gap but Elmarleen is faster downwind. As Concerto rolled her way downwind to Bembridge ledge I had the choice of a gybe and drop close to the mark or drop early; having taken some bravery pills I went for the spinnaker gybe and held the kite as late as dared before rounding the mark.

Reaching away from Bembridge ledge I could see Will on Elmarleen sailing much higher into the island-shore before coming back out to pass the shallows and it worked as he closed a 150m gap to just a boat-length or so. It was finally a drag-race to the finish and Concerto just had the slight edge on speed with Elmarleen sailing slightly lower and just a smidge slower but there was little in it. Never has there been such focus on boat-speed and I had every intention of dropping down to sitting on top of Elmarleen if necessary! In the fluky winds off East Cowes Concerto had to sail lower which necessitated a final small tack to cross the line and for the last tack of the day I got a riding turn on the primary winch just as a bunch of charter boats are also trying to get into Cowes.  Across the line in 7hr 30 minutes which is a record time for me.

All in all a great day racing, very happy to finish 1st in IRC2 and 2nd IRC Overall. I was physically broken on Saturday evening having given all to the race but look forward to taking part again next year. Huge thanks to the organisers for a very successful event.


Nigel Colley – Fastrak XI – Sun Fast 3200 R2

Having got “Beagled” the night before it took a while to get the R2 going! “Fastrak XI” is out of the same mould as the standard 3200’s but differs in that she has a “straight all lead keel without a bulb” and a slightly taller carbon mast, so greater overall sail area, especially downwind and less righting moment. It was going to be interesting to see how she went in a stiff breeze!

Upwind from the start to the Needles I had a great tussle with Jeremy Waitt on “Jangada” with both boats trading places, but “Fastrak” conceding the lead just before the bear away. I was going to shoot round Goose Rock just inside the Varvassi wreck, but I bottled at the last minute and went round wide not wanting to stuff a brand new boat. A conservative approach from the Needles to St Cats was taken with the Zero staying in its bag and pretty much straight lining it. Thank you to “Game On”, a larger Sun Fast 3600, on who’s quarter wave I hitched a ride for a few miles, before soaking lower to get the better tide.

Soon after St Cats it was up with the S4 in lumpy seas and a gusty 17 to 22 knots of wind. The boat was going well with the jib still up under the kite, and the pilot doing an awesome job whilst I trimmed. However, fearing a possible gybe before Bembridge, the jib simply had to come down and that’s when it happened!!! Sitting in the foredeck wrestling the jib down, which is not hanked and on a foil, the back end of the boat came out the water on a wave and the rudders lost traction leading to a monster broach. I had to stay on the foredeck and get the jib down and strapped before going back aft. It was not nice or pretty, but I got the boat back under control and carried on with no harm done, except to my pride!

Soaking down low with the symmetric kite I retook my lead on the way to Bembridge over “Jester” who had benefitted from my broach, and “Game On”, both of whom had to sail further with their A-sails. The rest of the race was, as for everybody, hard work trimming through the gusts, trying to keep up with the bigger boats around me, and navigating the “Norris Nadgers” to get to the finish at Snowden.

Well done to “Jangada” on taking the Class 1 and overall win, and to the Class 2 boats “Concerto”, “Elmarleen” and “Amylou” for sneaking through on handicap. I was pleased with 2nd in Class 1 and 5th Overall and for building up experience of the R2 in a decent breeze.


We have room for other skippers tales of the race - just send your words to sorcsolo@gmail.com


We aplogise for the fact that an error crept into the results announced immediately after the race. Here are the final correct results...

RIOW Race Results

Event Photo Gallery

« Return to Race Reports

Jangada & Ding Dong