A Cowes Week Overview

SailingClothing Store Reply Friday, August 01, 2014
Best time of the year on the Isle of Wight, Cowes Week starts tomorrow!

Cowes Week is a famous event renowned for being one of the longest-running regular regattas in the world. With 8000 competitors, up to 1000 boats and 40 daily races this is a sporting event that is not to be missed. For those that aren’t familiar with a regatta, this is a sporting event that involves a series of sailing races.


 Cowes harbour impression, late 19th century. Image credits: http://www.cowes.shalfleet.net/cowes_parade.htm
The Cowes Week regatta dates back to 10 August 1826 and was organised by the Royal Yacht Club, known today as the Royal Yacht Squadron.

The prize for the first race was a gold cup valued at £100. This race was won by Joseph Weld in his 83 ton cutter of Arrow by a 3 minute margin. Weld was the race favourite and did not disappoint his supporters. row. The following day saw another race with a prize money bounty of £30 for first place and £20 for second. James Saunders’s was victorious in his 32 ton cutter Marquis of Anglesey.

Since 1826, the Cowes Week has become an annual event and is held in August of every year. The only exceptions occurred during World War I and World War II.

After World War II, the regatta began growing in popularity and size. By 1953, the Cowes Week had grown from two days to nine days of racing which made it one of the longest-running regattas in the world. In 1957, the event gained international recognition due to the first Admiral’s Club.

Prior to 1964, every race was organised by a different mainland club. After the realisation that resources were scarce the clubs came together and agreed to collaborate to create a bigger, better event. The Cowes Combined Clubs (CCC) body was born from this.  Having only one body running all the races brought many substantial benefits which contributed to the increase in popularity of the Cowes Regatta.

The growth and expansion of Cowes Week can be attributed to a series of other factors too, such as its big prizes and the Royal Yacht Squadron’s reputation. In addition, in the first few decades following World War II, the yachting industry’s image changed from a rich man’s activity to a sport which anyone could enjoy, including owners of small 30 foot self-skippered yachts.

River Media leading up to Cowes harbour, 1959. Image credits: http://www.cowes.shalfleet.net/cowes_parade.htm
The modern era saw the evolvement of sponsorships which improved the event’s infrastructure. In 2007, a management board called Cowes Week Ltd was formed. Its purpose was to handle all business and management operations.

Cowes Week essential information

Cowes Week is held every year, in early August. The only exception is if it clashes with the Olympic Games, then you will find it a few weeks later.

In 2014, the event will take place from 2nd  to 9th  August. What we really love about the Cowes Regatta is the fact that anyone can participate, from professional and Olympic sea dogs to casual and weekend sailors. This perfect mixture of participants guarantees a brilliant show to the 100,000 spectators who descend upon Cowes for the week every year.

For those who wish to participate, making your entry to the regatta is a pretty straight forward process and can be done online. For the rest of us who prefer to stay on land rather than sea, there are a variety of locations for you to get the best views of the races. So make sure you book August for a great day out, or week away from home.  

Finally, Cowes Week is a very special time of the year for us here at the Sailing Clothing Store. The atmosphere is very similar to the one at the World Cup with everyone supporting 9individual competitors, teams as well as sailing as a sport in general. Let us know of your thoughts on Cowes Week in the comments section below. If you are participating in this year’s race, through sailing itself or spectating then we want to hear from you!

Cowes Week in the modern era. Image credits: http://blog.wightlocations.co.uk/  

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