Round the Isle of Sheppey Race 1st September 2007
IOS Round the Island is a long established, long distance event designed to test the sailing skills and endurance over a 40-mile course. Sailed clockwise around the island, starting and finishing at IOS Sailing Club, the race includes tidal sea, river & estuary sailing. The event is the longest dinghy and board race in Europe. It should not be confused with so-called 24 hour races, which allow a change of helm and crew.
The race is open to all classes of dinghy, catamaran and windsurfers. Each year only a handful of regular windsurfers compete in the event but this year 10 members from the Minster Windsurf Club based on the Isle of Sheppey decided to attempt to complete the course. As a club member and owner of the local windsurf shop, Xtremity Boardsports, I decided to approach Surf Sales to see if we could borrow some suitable equipment to attempt the race with. As ever Stacey Vass at Surf Sales was more than happy to help. A short trip to Folkestone later and we had loaded my van with as many Exocet Kona boards as we could fit in there along with a few 7.5m rigs.
With only a few days practice on long boards and an unfavorable forecast the Minster/Xtremity Team met up Saturday morning and proceeded to the start line. Unfortunately the weather could not have been worse for circumnavigating the Isle of Sheppey. The wind was light (approx 8mph) and in the worst possible direction, the only up side was it was warm and sunny. With the wind blowing a North Westerly direction it meant that the majority of the course was either on a run dead down wind or beating up wind in the narrow part of the Swale.
Out of the 10 Minster/Xtremity Team members only 6 were able to complete the race the quickest of these being 7 hours and 11 minutes and the last man back after 8 hours and 8 minutes. The current official record for this race on a board is 3 hours 6 minutes making this year’s event a massive endurance race due to the conditions. Out of the 5 borrowed Exocet Kona boards 4 of them completed the race. The fastest member of Team Minster/Xtremity Harry Roach was also on an Exocet Kona proving that these boards are very suitable boards for this type of long distance course racing.
Well done to everyone that entered whether they completed the course or not. I think that there will definitely be a team of Minster Club Members up for the challenge again next year, hopefully with more favorable conditions. Perhaps we could get a few other Windsurf clubs to enter next year?
If any of you are interested in taking up the challenge of the round the Isle of Sheppy race then visit http://www.iossc.org.uk/islandrace/index.php or contact Mark at Xtremity Boardsports firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 01634 376350