Meticulous planning is going into Cowes RNLI lifeboat station’s preparations for providing safety cover for the 1,700 yachts competing in this year’s J P Morgan Asset Management’s Round the Island Race on Saturday (1st June).
The 50 mile event, organised by the station’s next door neighbours, the Island Sailing Club, is broken down to eleven starts from Cowes, the first timed for 5 am and the last for 6.40 am.
Cowes lifeboat will be on the water over nine hours during the day, patrolling from Cowes to Hurst Narrows in the morning and from Fishbourne to Cowes in the afternoon as the entries stream in on the final leg of the event.
With the lifeboat beginning its on-the-water operation at 4.30 am and ending at 5 pm, it has been decided the lifeboat should run with three lots of crews. The first replacements will take over at Trinity Landing, Cowes at 7.30 am and return to station at 11 am where the boat will be recovered until it takes to the water again with a third crew at 2 pm. There will also be three sets of all-important shore-crews at the station during the day.
Lifeboat Operations Manager, Mark Southwell, said: “This is the second year we have had three sets of people afloat and ashore. This ensures we spread the load on our volunteers, for what is after all a long day, and that everyone is fresh to perform to the highest standard required by Solent Coastguards, the RNLI and the 16,000 competing yachtsmen.
“We still remember the great demand that was placed on the single boat crew we provided for the 2011 Round the Island, when so many yachts encountered problems in what were really testing conditions.”
This year’s planning, drawn up by Deputy Launch Authority, Harry Leslie, also ensures the lifeboat is suitably provisioned with bottles of water and that prior to the mid-morning stop-over there will be a chance to refuel.
Meals have also been factored in, with the first boat and shore crew being most generously provided once again with a free breakfast by long-time lifeboat supporter Rod Ainge at his Eegon’s Restaurant. Meals for the subsequent volunteers will be available at the station