The Needles, Isle Of Wight


*This painting is framed.*

The Needles on the Isle of Wight is one of the most photographed groups of rocks in the world. This row of three distinctive chalk stacks features in all the classic views of the island, a truly unforgettable image. The Needles form the western tip of a band of chalk that crosses the centre of the Isle of Wight, stretching to Culver Cliff in the east. This chalk ridge continues west under the sea to Dorset’s Isle of Purbeck and is believed to have been connected at one time to Old Harry Rocks, about 20 miles away. In 5,000 BC this ridge was breached by the Solent River, creating the Isle of Wight with its jagged white rocks at the western tip. These unusually vertical rocks are a result of the heavy folding of chalk and the remaining stacks of hard chalk are extremely resistant to erosion.

In 1764 the missing Needle, known as ‘Lot’s Wife’ crashed into the sea. The stump of this 120 feet high pinnacle can still be seen at low tide, and forms a dangerous reef.

In 1931 the Round the Island Yacht Race started, with The Needles its first important landmark. “Threading the Needle” was one of the most difficult and dangerous traditions. Until 1955, a Bridge buoy had to be left to port and then there were years in which it was possible to ‘thread The Needles’, passing between two of the chalk pillars. Jack Knights did so with great success in a Yachting World Diamond sailing boat, winning the race in 1961. But the practice was frowned upon and from 1963 until 1980 then a buoy was dropped offshore of the infamous hazards, Goose Rock and the wreck of the ‘Varvassi’ Greek merchant steamship.

The Needles is also the first major Landmark of The Admiral’s Cup yacht race, what is now The America’s Cup, which started in the Solent and then passed the Needles. For many years this was the unofficial world championship of yacht racing.

The Needles, Isle Of Wight
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