Isle of Wight Circumnavigation - Relay
YOU CAN swim around the World Famous Isle of Wight
Perfect training for a future English Channel solo or relay
All swims include a tide push
Who is best suited for this adventure?
You, if you are…
Training for a solo of the English Channel
Training for a relay of the English Channel
Looking for a new adventure after a Channel solo / relay swim
Looking for a BIG challenge but have never swum a marathon swim before
Wanting to make new friends from across the world
Wanting personal training from, Chloë, the Queen of the English Channel (44x Channel swims including a triple non-stop crossing)
100% success rate - single crossings, who has successfully coached 160 English Channel solo and relay swimmers and organised two successful Isle of Wight Relays
- Want to swim with a beautiful escort boat with a full kitchen, full undercover outdoor area, a 360 degree top fly bridge level views and REAL beds!
- 90km (56m) Circumnavigation of the World Famous 'Isle of Wight'. Swim start & finish is the Needles
Very few solos (only 6, and even less under Channel rules, just 4) or relays have ever completed this incredible feat due to the very strong tides and the complex logistics involved pre- and during the swim
Approximate time to complete swim = 22 – 28hrs
(possibly as quick as 15 - 21hrs if swimmers are all 3.5 - 4km p/hr and conditions are favourable)
Swimmers can book as individuals in a public relay (Chloë will select the rest of your team) or a private relay where you swim ONLY with your buddies!
- 1hr is the standard rotation time, private relays have flexibility to choose their own time rotation interval e.g. they may wish to rotate every 2hrs
Swimmers will generally get 48hrs notice of a swim start, but the notice may be as short as 12 - 24hrs
- Rules similar to the Marathon Swimmers Federation (MSF) observed
What Windows are available?
|July 19 - 26
|Position #1 (Public Relay)
Public / Public Relay
PLUS more inclusions & details...
HUGE 51f (15m) boat hire which includes kitchenette, beds to sleep 15 persons, sheltered outdoor decking and extensive covered indoor and modern satellite navigation equipment etc... You will have 24 / 7 access to toilets and showers at the marina
Small boat (R.I.B) and kayak hire which is ready for one of the crew to use when swimmers are swimming closer to shore and for change-over of swimmers when this needs to happen in areas where it is too shallow for the main boat to go
Official observer and potential for official ratification, if you request this in advance
Chloë on your boat coaching and coordinating the relays, pilots and swim logistics. She may also swim in some of the relays too, if requested
All administration fees to process and coordinate the relays including Chloë personally finding you relay team mates if you request this
- Two Commercial Skippers (boat captains / pilots) – Roy Beal and Chloë McCardel
GPS tracking of your swim to share with family and friends all over the world
Food which is cooked for you at regular intervals during the swim (allergies and food preferences catered for). As well as the ability to use the kitchen to prepare your own meals.
Exclusive WhatsApp group for your Isle of Wight relay
- FREE ENTRY into one Cold Water Camp in the year of your relay. Camps are in Dorset (UK) / Sorrento (VIC, AUST.). Subject to availability, so book your place NOW so you don't miss out!
Please note rotations must be a minimum of 1hr each. If your team are looking for ratification, whatever rotation interval you chose must be repeated for every swimmer and the same swimmer order, as they first full rotation, must be repeated exactly too.
- Public – 8 swimmers per relay. Rotations will be 1hr unless all team member prefer a different rotation interval
- Exclusive – you wish to swim exclusively with your team mates. You can choose your number of swimmers and your rotation interval
FAQsWho is the Head Skipper (captain / pilot)?
Roy Beal will be your Head Skipper.
In 2022, as Head Skipper on Channel Queen, he meticulously planned and skippered Chloë's Hurst Castle to The Needles 6km swim through very strong tidal flows, namely the 'Hurst Race', which saw her swimming at a max speed of 11kph. Roy skippered for Mark Critchlow, a legally blind swimmer, who wanted to have a bespoke swim experience finishing at Durdle Door and Roy skippered the Charity Needles swim where he was in charge of 10 swimmers and three other crew looking after the swimmers.
Roy's expedition solo kayaking challenges have provided him with a strong base for his navigational and tidal planning skills. This has been further honed by his planning and support kayaking for Oly Rush's 160km Jurassic Coast swim in 2020 plus Roy's 15hr non-stop kayaking next to Oly for his Wetsuit Speed Record Isle of Wight 2021 swim (circa 90km). During the 2022 Channel Queen swim season Roy was the Head of Water Safety and lead kayaker and navigator for the two Isle of Wight Relay Circumnavigations.
In addition, Roy has a 30-year background as Master Auto-electrician and manages the day-to-day mechanical and electrical needs of the boat. Interestingly, Channel Queen has two one tonne truck engines (280hp caterpillar engines) propelling her so Roy is very familiar with looking after these machines. He is an incredible asset to Channel Queen swim activates.
For Roy's full bio please click here
Chloë McCardel is the proud owner of the Channel Queen boat as well as Head of Logistics and Assistant Skipper for all the swim events.
Chloë has extensive experience running swim events and camps, swim safety and coaching experience.
In 2022, on Channel Queen, Chloë crewed for Roy Beal, Head Skipper for all the swims which he skippered (see previous paragraph for details)Chloë co-skippered, with Roy, a return trip from Southampton to the Channel Islands in October 2021. She skippered through the treacherous passage of the 'Alderney tidal race'. PLUS she has amassed other skippering hours in various sea / weather conditions as well as many Channel Queen transit journeys along the South Coast.
For Chloë's full bio please click here.
How many swimmers in a relay?
Generally eight swimmers. Private relays can choose anywhere from 2 to up to 11 swimmers. Due to the length of the swim (90km) which is approximately the equivalent to a double crossing of the English Channel, less than 8 swimmers although possible, is not recommended. If you have very long rotations then this is a possibility.
For example, if you and a few of your swim buddies are each training up for an English Channel solo and you are very fit, handle cold water and choppy / tidal conditions well etc... you may wish to look into long intervals to get in quality training. E.g. 3hr or 4hr rotations each. In this case, if there were a group of 4 of you and you rotated every 3hrs you could possibly complete the swim in 19.5 hrs as 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 1.5. In this scenario everyone swims once and swimmer 1 and 2 swim a second rotation and swimmer 3 gets 1.5hr of swimming before they finish the relay.
How can a relay swim 90km (56m) in just 25hrs or even as quick as 15hrs?
There are very strong tides which go around the Isle of Wight and with the careful preparation and piloting your pilots will ensure your relay takes maximum advantage of the tidal push!
What does a Window mean?
This is the number (the range) of days in which your relay will swim. Your relay will swim as soon as it is your turn and the weather is deemed suitable to swim. As the weather can be unpredictable in the English Channel your Skipper will wait until you are very close to the window to notify you of the swim start, this is to ensure he/she has the best information at hand when deciding which the best day is.
How many Positions are allocated to the boat per window?
A maximum of 3 Positions per Window will be allocated per tide, this is to ensure the MAXIMUM opportunity for ideal weather for the Positions on each Window. Many English Channel boat captains book up to 5x Positions per Window, and sadly, it is all too common that swimmers who are Position 4 & 5 get “weathered out”. This terms means that by the time it is their turn to swim there is no more suitable weather left to swim in the remaining days of their window.
Bookings are taken on a first-come-first-serve basis. So, the earlier you secure your Position the higher the chance you will be Position 1.
Discuss your swim directly with Chloë here
Can our family friends be on the boat?
You can bring a maximum of 11 swimmers and / or guests onto the boat. As an example, for a relay of 8 swimmers there will be up to three additional spaces for non-swimming guests you may wish to be on the boat.
Can partner/s, friend/s or family be there at the start and / or finish?
Yes! Your family and friends can also watch you start and finish from the viewing area at The Needles, on The Isle of Wight, which is open 24hrs.
What rules must the relay follow to be officially ratified?
Your team must decide at the time of booking whether you want to swim an unassisted swim (basically in ‘skins’) or an assisted swim where you are allowed to wear equipment as listed by the Marathon Swimming Federation in the link below.
You can find the rules on the Marathon Swimmers Federation by clicking the links below:
What if someone pulls out of the relay during the relay in our relay, or pulls out in the other relay if we are swimming in a tandem?
The swimmer will have a maximum of 5 minutes to regain their composure (on a maximum of two separate occasions over the course of the relay) to keep swimming. If they exhaust these two options, they as a swimmer will be disqualified from swimming in their relay. Their relay will continue, as a Training Swim (it will not be able to be ratified), as long as at least half of that relay are able to continue the relay rotating on the agreed time interval.
I want to join a Public Relay will our relay be classified as Standard (Unassisted) or Non-Standard (Assisted)?
All public relays will swim under Standard (Unassisted) rules, otherwise known as "skins".
Where do we meet the boat? How long will it take to get to swim start?
Channel Queen's permanent berth is Portland Marina. However, you will meet Channel Queen at Lymington Harbour because is the quickest boat trip, from the mainland, to the swim start at The Needles.
The trip will take approximately 40min. Most of this time will be used to give you a safety induction, familiarisation with the boat and to get the first swimmer ready etc...
My family and I are staying on the Isle of Wight. Can you pick me up from there?
Unfortunately, we cannot do multiple pick ups of swimmers from different locations due to the time it takes to get into/out from marinas and loading times.
However, if your entire team want to meet the boat at Yarmouth Marina on the Isle of Wight, the Head Skipper is happy to meet you there.
What is the expected water temperature for each Window?
Expected water temperature 14 - 16C in mid to late June, building from 16 - 19C throughout July, 18 - 20C in August / September.
Will the tide assist our team the whole way?
The tide will likely be with you ¾ of the time and against you ¼ of the time. Your team may possibly not make any progress for hours on end when you swim against the tide. Rest assured this is not only normal, it is to be expected!
What sort of sea conditions should I expect?
All swimmers booked in a 2023 or 2024 Isle of Wight Relay will be given a Position in the swim camp the year of their relay, There will be plenty of coaching on this camp. Camp positions are subject to availability, so secure you place as soon as possible! Lock in your swim directly with Chloë here
Will Chloë be in the relays? Will she coach swimmers during the relay?
Chloë will coach, coordinate and crew in the public 2023 and 2024 relays. If a Public relay needs a 8th swimmer then Chloë will jump in to round the relay up to 8.
Chloë will also coordinate and crew the exclusive relays and if they would like she can coach and/or swim in them too, she can.
Can the whole relay swim into the finish together?
Yes, if the Head Skipper deems it is safe and has clearance from any local authorities, where applicable. Some examples where the Skipper may not allow it is if it is darkness / fog and swimmers may get disorientated and separate on their way to shore, or if there is boat traffic.
What is the minimum requirement to prove that a swimmer is ready for their relay?
There are two separate tests, a cold water test and a fitness test. If your relay is swimming under the ‘Assisted’ category you may wear the gear you plan to swim your relay in either or both qualifying tests. Tests must be completed within the following time frame – as early as three months from the start of the Window for that relay or as late as the day before. It is advised to attempt them as early possible so that you have the opportunity to reattempt any test again to qualify.
This will give you, your team mates, the other relay (if you are swimming tandem) and your coach (Chloë) and pilots peace of mind that you are the minimum pace and also cold resilient. It also means you have peace of mind that others in your relay and the other relay (if you are in a tandem) have met their minimum requirements too.
An independent person or persons who have current or historical experience (paid or unpaid) in one or more of the following areas are eligible to oversee your qualifier:
- Sports coach
- Sports official
- Sports administrator
- Marathon swim observer
- Other as agreed, at least two weeks in advance of your attempt, with Chloë
There must be an observer for all of your swims. The role can be shared by more than one person if they wish to ‘tag team’ observing you. You will be given form for the observer/s to fill out by Chloë.
1) Cold Water Test
Swimmers must swim twice the time of their swim rotation as a cold water qualifier in the minimum temperature they expect their relay to be in (e.g. if you are swimming 30min swim rotations a 1hr cold water qualifier is required). Chloë will provide guidance as to what that temperature will be for you before you book. There will be an opportunity to do your cold water test at Dorset camp (UK) and Sorrento camp (VIC, AUST).
2) Swim Fitness Test
Swimmers will need to EACH swim their expected swim hours, for the first 24hrs of their Isle of Wight swim, in an indoor or outdoor (chlorinated or ocean) pool to show they have the minimum fitness. You must cover a minimum distance of 2.5km for each hour of swimming. Hours can be spread out as much you like within a 24hr time period. Hours are rounded up when they .5 or above.
|Number of hours
E.g. a 6 person team (who will swim a total of 4hrs) may have a swim test day which looks like this below. You will notice they have 2hrs break between each 1hr swim.
7 – 8am swim
10 – 11am swim
1 – 2pm swim
4 – 5pm swim
Will I get seasick?
Did you know that sea sickness is common among Relays in the English Channel? Chloë will discuss how to minimise the risk of and ideally prevent this occurring and what to do if it occurs during the monthly coaching calls leading into your relay.
I live / have family or friends on the Isle of Wight. Can I stay here the night before the swim?
I understand that this seems like a very convenient and homely option for you. If you are in a Private relay this is an option you may prefer, although I’d discuss it with your team mates first as it would be ideal to swim together the afternoon before the swim in Portsmouth. If you are a Private relay and your whole team is staying on the island prior to the swim then it may be more efficient to have the afternoon swim and dinner on the island prior to the swim as everyone will be sleeping there anyway.
If you are in a Public relay or an Exclusive tandem relay you will need to meet in Portsmouth the afternoon swim so you can have another opportunity to swim with your buddy before the relay, see exception below*.
It will be very challenging getting to the island that night if you are in Portsmouth at dinner time. You may be lucky and be able to book a place on a ferry or hovercraft, but this may be challenging with the possibly short notice of the swim start.
We booked a 6 person relay and one of our swimmers has dropped out. What do we do?
If you are in a Private relay you can choose to swim with one less swimmer and pay the outstanding balance for that swimmer, if it hasn't already been paid, or you can look for a replacement swimmer or you can ask Chloë to look for a replacement swimmer or you can ask Chloë if she can swim this position.
What if we are team of 4 and we want to organise an exclusive team of 6 and we are ready to book but we haven't found the last two swimmers yet?
I suggest securing your relay immediately so that it is reserved for your team. If you are booking well in advance then you have plenty of time to find the remaining swimmers. You have until 12 weeks out from the start of your Window to secure all your teammates. If you haven't found them by then Chloë will find you suitable swimmer/s to fill your team of 6. She may even jump in and swim with you as a team mate!
What if a swimmer drops out of an Exclusive Private Relay in advance of the relay?
The team will be responsible for finding a suitable replacement who can meet the cold water qualifier, can pass the fitness test and is available the afternoon before and for the window of dates etc… If you cannot find a suitable replacement within 12 weeks of the start of your Window Chloë reserves the right to find a suitable replacement. Alternatively, your team may prefer to pay the remaining balance of the swim Position and swim with one less swimmer.
Is it possible for me to go on a standby list for a 2023 / 24 relay in case someone drops out of relay and you are looking for another swimmer?
Yes, it is possible. I suggest you train towards the same two qualifiers 1. Cold Water Test and 2. Fitness test so that you are ready to do these qualifiers if necessary. Or you can achieve these qualifiers within 3 months of the start of your preferred Window/s and you will then have them 'banked' so you are ready go, at a moments notice, if called. Please keep in mind if you will also need a medical signed off by your doctor too. You may wish to consider coming along to the cold water camps too. For more information please contact Chloë directly.
What if I am sick, injured or have scheduling issues leading into my relay?
These things happen in life unfortunately. The full costs of your relay will still be incurred even if you are not there.
It is suggested that every relay have at least one swimmer as a reserve, ideally two, who completes the fitness and cold water test and camp and is ready to jump in at the last minute in case of scenarios such as these.
If you can no longer swim it is your responsibility to find a suitable replacement. If you and / or your team can’t find a replacement all monies that have been paid for that swimmer will be forfeited and Chloë will find a replacement for you.
What if our Window is "weathered" out?
As there are a maximum of 3 swim Positions per 8-9 days of the Window time frame this is unlikely. However, if this happens Chloë will attempt to find another Window of dates in the same swim season to accommodate you, she is very keen for you to have the opportunity to go on your adventure and will try her utmost to get you to the start line asap! You must be prepared to swim into October if there are no earlier opportunities earlier due to weather and / or scheduling etc…
What administration will I need to do?
You will be given a medical certificate which you will be required to have signed off by your doctor, you will be required to sign other documents around the rules of the relay and a contract for your swim Position in the relay and send in a passport photo of yourself. You will not need to liaise with any authorities in regards to the Relay itself.
Can I practice ‘feeding’ during my relay as a training preparation for a future solo?
You can practice a feed for up on up to two separate swims. You will need permission from the pilot as some of your swim rotations it may not be suitable due to the sea state, tide, boat traffic or other factors. If you are swimming in a tandem ideally you will feed on the same rotations which your buddy wants to practice feeding, assuming they wish to practice too.
Will there be the opportunity to be coached by Chloë during the relay?
If you wish to have Chloë watch you during your swims this needs to be discussed at least two weeks in advance of your relay Window opening. Chloë will do her best to watch you and provide live feedback when you are back on the boat and possibly film you too.
Her advice will be limited if she is your buddy swimmer as she will be in the water swimming every time you are swimming too!
I would like extra coaching support in advance of the relay from Chloë. Is that possible?
Yes, please contact Chloë directly to enquire about additional coaching services.
Do I need ‘Channel Grease’?
This is not needed for relay swimming, Vaseline will be sufficient. Channel grease is not good for interiors of boats and is not allowed on the boat when relays are in progress.
Will all the relay swim be in daylight?
It is highly likely you will swim a good portion of your relay in the darkness. This means it is very important for you to practice night swimming and ideally night swimming next to a large boat. This opportunity is offered at both Dorset camp (UK) and Sorrento camp (VIC, AUST). You will need to wear two glow sticks or adventure lights. Your team should have at least four adventures between you, this way you can share them between you when you swim. Or you can bring two each if you wish.
What should I bring on the boat for the relay?
At a minimum all the things you plan to swim with like Goggles, Cap, Swimming Costume, Spare Clothing, adequate Toweling, Blanket or Sleeping Bag, snacks with energy, Adventure lights, Grease... There is no shortage of space on the boat inside so your gear can be stored inside the boat. Anything on the deck may get very wet. Chloë will discuss a more exhaustive list with you well in advance of your relay.
Can I have a shower each time I swim?
Due to the limited water supply on the boat and the number of people on the boat unfortunately this will not be possible. However, they are 24 / 7 toilet and showering facilities which you can use at the marina where you meet Channel Queen.
I hear there are beds, can we sleep in them?
Yes, you are welcome to. There will be bedding supplied or you can bring your own sleeping bag and pillow if you like!
Do I need a passport on the boat?
Not necessarily, but you will need some form of photo I.D. to identify yourself officially to the observer before the relay starts. The identification can be a passport, proof of age card (government issued) or a driver’s license.
Do I need insurance?
You are very strongly urged to get as much protection as possible. Sports, accident, life, travel, property and other insurance are your responsibility and are very strongly recommended. Unforeseen accidents are a real possibility. The Isle of Wight is a Channel swim and the English Channel is extremely demanding on your energy and your mental determination.
There are several business who run ferry and hovercraft services frequently to and from the Isle of Wight and your relay will need to pass through this area when you go through the Solent. The passage of these ships is further complicated by strong tides, sandbanks, shoals and other Solent traffic both commercial and recreational.
Under what conditions will a pilot abort a swim?
The pilot is in sole charge of the swim and all of those on board. If he/she believes that:
- your life is in danger
- it would be impossible to land you safely
- that the lives of anyone on board are at risk
- the boat is at risk
- that the boats position makes it hazardous to shipping, he may at his/her discretion abort a swim and you must accept his decision
Under NO circumstances will your swim be ratified if you chose to ignore it. As much as Chloë, the pilots and the observers appreciate that an Isle of Wight relay swim is a huge solo effort, it is also a team effort and you have to think about the safety of your team as much as they are thinking of your safety. It may not seem like it at the time, but there is always another day.
What if a swim is aborted due a mechanical or other boat related issue?
You will be offered another relay opportunity ideally in your booked swim season and if that doesn’t work for everyone’s schedules then the following year, be prepared to be offered a swim in October the year of your booking if this happens as the rest of the season may be booked out.
I am a swimmer with a disability; can I have a guide swimmer in the water?
Yes, as long the swimmer does not swim ahead of you or touch you and you are in a Private relay. If you are in a tandem relay Chloë will discuss your needs with you and the other relay before you book to ensure a system is agree upon that works for everyone.
You can also have further assistance, if you wish. For example, you can have assistance entering the water (including being touched by your guide swimmer) before you over take for you’re the start of your swim rotation and your guide swimmer can assist you to get on to the boat after you have been over taken by the swimmer who is swimming after you.
What if I can’t attend camp?
If you can’t attend all of camp it is highly advised that you attend as many days as possible to give you the chance to achieve your cold water qualifier, to give Chloë the opportunity to give you some personalised coaching and feedback, to possibly swim with some or all of your relay and some or all of the other relay if you are in a tandem.
If you can’t attend any day that’s ok too. You can practice the same skills, attempt your cold water qualifier etc… at other camps or at other times convenient for you. There is no credit or partial refund if you cannot attend the camp.
What if I can’t travel due to Covid related issues?
You can transfer your relay position to a future year if affected by Covid
Will we be eligible for any specific awards?
Yes, the new ratification body will be holding awards at the end of the 2022 calendar year and you may win an award!
What is the investment per swimmer?
£997 per swimmer in a public relay. Public relays all have 8 swimmers in them.
If you want a private relay and you have 8 swimmers then it will also be £997. If you have more than 8 swimmers each additional swimmer will be £997 each. If you have less than 8 swimmers the total cost of an 8 person relay will be divided by the number of swimmers. E.g. a 4 person relay will be £1994 per swimmer
Are there other fees for things like administration, observation, ratification etc...?
No, there is not. This package is ‘all inclusive’. There are no additional fees for observation, ratification, administration, coaching during the relay or piloting. You will still need to cover other costs like travel to from / Portsmouth, accommodation pre/post swim if necessary, your training costs, and any insurance etc... Anything that isn’t covered in ‘inclusions’ you will need to cover.
Can I pay in instalments?
Yes, you can pay in full or pay a 50% deposit to secure your swim position, and pay the balance 6 weeks before your relay Window opens
Is my deposit or balance refundable?
Neither your deposit nor balance is refundable. If you cannot swim and you source a swimmer to replace you then you may ask them to cover any of your costs. This is between you and them.
What else should I be aware of?
England – Belgium relays are guided by the principles applied by the International Olympic Committee and UK Sport. Swimmers need to be aware that you may be requested to undertake a drug test at any time up until 24 hours after your swim. For the most up to date list of prohibited drugs swimmers are recommended to go to: World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Their website can be found HERE
What is SIPE and can I get it during my relay swim?
Swimming Induced Pulmonary Edema (SIPE), also known as immersion pulmonary edema, occurs when fluids from the blood leak abnormally from the small vessels of the lung (pulmonary capillaries) into the airspaces (alveoli).SIPE usually occurs during exertion in conditions of water immersion, such as swimming and diving. With the recent surge in popularity of triathlons and swimming in open water events there has been an increasing incidence of SIPE. It has been reported in scuba divers, apnea (breath hold) free-diving
competitors, combat swimmers, Channel swimmers and triathletes. The causes are incompletely understood at the present time. Your observer, coach and pilot will be trained up to identify the symptoms and treat them as best as possible.
Symptoms of SIPE may include:
- Shortness of breath out of proportion to the effort being expended.
- Crackles, rattling or junky feelings deep in the chest associated with breathing effort.
Cough, usually distressing and productive or not of a little pink, frothy or blood-tinged sputum