14 June 2024

Round Britain & Ireland
Yacht Race

By Paul Knox-Johnston Sales & Marketing Manager

An iconic yacht race around the waters of Britain and Ireland

After battling atrocious weather conditions and equipment failures, the boats participating in this year’s Round Britain and Ireland (RB&I) Yacht Race, organised by the Royal Western Yacht Club, finally crossed the finish line.

The race

As the name suggests, the challenging route circumnavigates the coastlines of Britain and Ireland, is open to all yachts and multihulls between 30ft and 60ft in length, and sailed double handed.

Seen as one of the toughest offshore races in the UK yacht racing calendar, it attracts sailors from all around the world who wish to test their skill and endurance in the unpredictable British waters and push themselves to their limits.

The route takes the fleet from the start line in Plymouth northwards into the Celtic Sea, around Ireland and the challenging waters of the North Atlantic, into the North Sea, around Scotland’s notorious Cape Wrath, and through the Pentland Firth, before heading back down the North Sea and along the crowded English Channel back to Plymouth.

The strong currents and tides around the UK require constant attention and expert seamanship to navigate quickly and safely with the wrong routing decisions potentially making days of time difference to reach key milestones. This all adds up to ensure each iteration of the RB&I Yacht Race offers a unique test of preparation, skill, and resilience.

Credit: Ian Roman

The history of the race

The RB&I Yacht Race originated from the desire to create a sailing challenge that was not just about speed but also about navigation, seamanship, and endurance. The race was conceived by members of the Royal Western Yacht Club (RWYC) in Plymouth, England, and was first held in 1966. Since then, it has typically occurred every 4 years, with this year’s race being the 16th edition.

Over time, the race has seen various tweaks to its rules, particularly regarding crew size. The fleet is currently split into 2-Handed and Fully Crewed categories. The latter allows crews to switch at the compulsory 48 hour stops in Galway, Lerwick, and Blyth. Enabling crew changes means multiple participants can experience the race without the pressure of spending too long at sea.

The 70s and 80s saw record fleets participating in the RB&I Yacht Race, peaking in 1982 with 85 boats starting the race from 12 different countries. Since then, numbers have steadily reduced, with only 5 boats crossing the start line this year. Of those boats, 4 are being raced 2-handed, with the 5th having a change of skipper during one of the required stopovers. Along the way, the crews have battled mechanical and equipment failure, storm force winds, and possibly more infuriatingly, no wind!

This year’s results

Congratulations to “Sail Escapade,” who finished on 1st June at 02:44, taking line honours and 1st place in IRC, in a time of 13 days, 14 hours and 45 minutes, a  record for an international monohull!

Polished Manx” came in second over the line, and in second place in IRC, on 6th June 07:56.

Arcsine” came in third over the line, on 7th June 02:21, but was just pipped to the post for IRC 3rd place by “Enigma of Yorkshire“, who crossed the line on 8th June 22:26.

The multihull “Paradox 3” unfortunately had to retire due to mechanical failure at the top of their 2nd Jib.

What to consider before crossing the start line

The RB&I race is open to both cruising and racing yachts.  If you are more used to cruising your local coastline, but have set yourself the challenge of participating in a race like the Round Britian & Ireland Race, it’s important to make sure that you are fully covered by your boat insurance.

A standard insurance policy that might serve you well on a leisurely sail down the coast is unlikely to be valid when participating in what can be a grueling yacht race.  Engaging with your insurance broker before crossing the start line is a must, in order to arrange specialised racing insurance which offers comprehensive cover to account for the heightened risks experienced with competitive sailing.  As with all insurance policies, working with a broker who goes the extra mile to help make sure that the cover you choose fits your needs is important in providing peace of mind when racing.

Haven Knox-Johnston Specialist –
your yacht racing partners

If you are looking for insurance for your next yacht racing endeavour, contact the team at Haven Knox-Johnston Specialist today.

As keen racers themselves, they are familiar with all aspects of a specialised race policy and can help you find a solution which matches your needs.

Find your local specialist branch here


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