The Isle of Wight nautical spectacular gets underway on Saturday, with thousands of boaters expected to flock to this year’s Round The Island Race

One of the biggest events in the boating calendar, for sailors and motorboaters alike, the JP Morgan Round The Island Race gets underway this Saturday (21 June).

The perfect antidote to World Cup weariness, the Isle of Wight event will see around 1,600 sailboats race anti-clockwise from Cowes to the Needles, past St Catherine’s Point and back to Cowes.

Round The Island, which starts at 6:30am and can take more than 12 hours, is the fourth-largest participation sporting event in the UK with 300 boats setting off per hour.

Those looking for a casual cruise in the Solent are advised to wait until Sunday, as boats will continue to drift in well after the 5pm cut-off time.

MBM’s technical writer Greg Goulding will be competing for the fifth time, having made headlines in 2008 as the youngest skipper in the field.

He will be up against such luminaries as Dame Ellen MacArthur, multihull record holder Sir Ben Ainslie and Sir Robin Knox-Johnson. We hope they can keep up.

Update: Ben Ainslie’s Leopard has pulled out of the race.

The 82nd Round The Island race will see many first-timers taking part, with the organisers reporting a 7% increase in novices compared with last year.

Broadcaster David Dimbleby is due to officially start proceedings, and with warm sunny conditions predicted and heaving marinas hose hoping to get a good view of the sailing action are advised to moor up at Osborne Bay, east of Hurst Castle or to the west of The Needles.

Greg adds: “If you do drop anchor, be prepared for some close encounters, as the competitors will have no qualms about cutting through your group to get the best racing line.”

On-shore attractions at Cowes include live music, the Festival Of The Sea food show and whisky tasting with Old Punteney, as well as exhibitions from Raymarine, Volvo and Haven Knox-Johnson.

If you’re taking part, or know someone who is, don’t forget to share your pictures with us on Twitter @mbmclub.