Yachts compete in a previous Round the Island Race. Picture by Laura Holme.
OLYMPIC hero Sir Ben Ainslie has got on board with the Isle of Wight Festival of the Sea, which takes place on June 21.
Organised by the Island Sailing Club, the spectacular race is one of the largest in the world and regularly attracts more than 1,500 yachts.
The Round the Island Race, sponsored by JP Morgan Asset Management, will take centre stage at the annual Isle of Wight Festival of the Sea, a week-long celebration of the Island's vibrant maritime culture created by Visit Isle of Wight.
In a video launched to support the race, Sir Ben, who will be taking part in this year’s race, described the event as a true celebration of sailing.
"It’s special this year because the race is headlining the Festival of the Sea," he said.
In addition to the race, there will be around 70 sea-themed events across the Island from Monday, June 16, including seafood tastings at local restaurants, live music at waterside pubs, lighthouse and literary tours.
Cowes Yacht Haven will be transformed into the Round the Island Race Village, with live music and a food festival, there will be coastal cruises and lobster fishing at Ventnor's secret coves and a performance of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing at Osborne House.
French jazz trio Jane for Tea will be performing at Ventnor Arts Club.
David Thornton, chief executive of tourism board Visit Isle of Wight, said: "This is the second year we have celebrated the Island’s deep connections with the deep blue all around us. We’ve had great support from attractions across the Island who’ve been coming forward to put on sea-themed events, and we’re sure that there will be something for everyone. It’s events like this that really highlight the Island’s all-year round appeal and its attraction for everyone — from the solo sailor to the fun-seeking family."
After the festival an All at Sea event will be held at Small Hope Beach, Shanklin, the following weekend.
Billed as an alternative beach experience, it will be the Island’s first beach festival with a twist, featuring cardboard boat racing, sand sculpture and pirate lessons.
For further information about all the events, visit www.visitisleofwight.co.uk