The Round Lundy Race is on!

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June sees one of the region’s biggest events in the yachting calendar setting off from Ilfracombe.


On Saturday 26th June at 7.40am, a flotilla of some 40 yachts of all classes will be lining up on a start line around 600 metres long.


At 8.00am the starting cannon will sound signalling that the 16th annual Round Lundy Race is underway.


Since the inaugural race in 2005, Ilfracombe’s Yacht Club’s annual Round Lundy Race has become the highlight of the Bristol Channel yachting calendar. The winner receives the Trafalgar Cup in recognition of a little-known connection between Ilfracombe and that infamous sea battle off Cape Trafalgar. When HM Pickle sailed into Falmouth with the terrible news of Nelson’s death, it was a British Royal Navy officer from Ilfracombe, Lt John Richards Lapenotiere (descended from an exiled Huguenot family) who conveyed the news onwards by road to the Admiralty in London.


The Round Lundy Race is not for the faint-hearted. Races can last a gruelling twelve hours. Starting on the morning ebb tide outside Ilfracombe Harbour, skippers will be aiming to catch the tidal gate at Lundy. Miss it and their race is effectively over. Catch it right and the steep rugged cliffs of the granite island can be circumnavigated before beginning the homeward run back to Ilfracombe capitalising on the evening’s flood tide.


It is definitely not plain sailing. Skippers and crews need to be prepared to face a variety of challenging conditions in the 60 mile race. The Stanley Bank a couple of miles north of Lundy whips up The White Horses. Then the West Bank, the Hens and Chicken Reef and Black Rock all need careful negotiation. Heavy tidal overfalls and eddies, the ever present Atlantic swell and numerous fishing markers all need skilful navigation. Then there is wind direction and strength to consider. Indeed, it is the rough sea conditions around the island which give rise to its nickname – Lumpy Island.


By late afternoon, you will be able to see the flotilla of brightly coloured spinnakers making its way eastwards using every zephyr of the prevailing south westerly wind to gain a slight but crucial advantage in the final push for the finish line.


For a superb view of the race, head to the terrace of Ilfracombe Yacht Club. It will be open from 7.30am and serving coffee and bacon rolls. If you are a novice at this sort of thing, there will be plenty of experienced sailors on hand to talk you through the action. It is an experience not to be missed!

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