On the Water

August 2016

Cowes Week

06.08.16 - 13.08.16
Isle of Wight

Traditionally held between Glorious Goodwood and the Glorious Twelfth, the annual Isle of Wight regatta has long been a magnet for royalty, the nobility and the rich and famous.

One of the UK's longest-running sporting events, Cowes Week has been a highlight of the social calendar since 1827 (its second year), when George IV showed his approval of the previous year's seven-yacht race, held under the flag of the Royal Yacht Club, by presenting the King's Cup.

Now extended to eight days in early August, Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week stages up to 40 daily races for more than 1,000 boats in nearly 40 handicap, one-design and multihull classes, and in the process offers a unique mix of classic and state-of-the-art designs. Up to 8,500 competitors participate each day.

The sheltered waters and unusual tidal conditions of the Solent can lead to challenging sailing conditions. The Solent is exceptionally busy during Cowes week, with 30-odd different courses in one of the busiest commercial stretches of water in the world.

The competitors range from weekend sailors to world-class and Olympic yachtsmen and -women, while a crowd of more than 100,000 enjoy a festival atmosphere climaxing in the fabulous Cowes Week fireworks display on the final Friday.

Parties and live street entertainment are focused on Cowes Parade, which has a central information point, stands offering free introductory sailing sessions, a landing from which spectator boat services depart, great views of the starting lines, and a bar and barbecue overlooking the Solent.

Alternatively, Cowes Yacht Haven, open to professionals, amateurs and spectators by ticket, has a waterside port and champagne bar, a beer tent, food and trade stalls, and a live entertainment stage. Events here include a ball and the prize-giving ceremony on the last Saturday.

Inexperienced sailors can take part in the festivities by participating in the 'Come Racing' programme (for just £10 per session). Experienced skippers teach three rookie crew members how to sail in a Laser SB3, which is then pitted against the rest of the Come Racing fleet for a taste of close quarters racing.

Food and drink etiquette

Food and drink etiquette

Debrett's notebooks

Debrett's notebooks