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Cowes Week

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by Kat Parr Mackintosh (subscribe)
Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
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Of course it looks peaceful now
Of course it looks peaceful now

If you know anything about anything about sailing then you'll have heard of Cowes Week: over 1000 yachts descend on the tiny coastal village for the eight day regatta and 8500 sailors take to the water every day. But even if you have heard story of this epic sailing regatta, you might not have realised that there's a lot here for 'sailing enthusiasts' and land-lubbers as well - from the opportunity to watch the drama of the races in the day, to sharing in the celebrations, commiserations and general debauchery in the evenings.

Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, couldn't be much further from being a global capital or international powerhouse, but in terms of history, location and scale, Cowes is a contender for the title of 'Sailing Capital of the World'. Located on the Solent – the stretch of water between the South coast of England and the Isle of Wight – the water is some of the most yacht-heavy at any time of year, so during Cowes Week the forest of sails becomes an incredible spectacle. It's like giant bunting Cowes' 'Week' is the world's oldest regatta, started in 1826 by the future George IV, who was a big yachting fan.

Breathing ballast
Breathing ballast
What makes this event is that there are more than 30 different classes of boats competing – ranging from huge professional sports yachts to tiny day cruisers – so from a spectator's perspective it's very varied viewing. And the week also encompasses some high calibre dinghy racing. The calibre of the competitors is also entertainingly varied: you'll see Olympic and World Champion sailors and yearling amateurs. So if you like what you see one year you could very well be competing the following year – you don't even need your own yacht, there are crewing positions advertised at local sailing clubs and online.

The Solent is known for its tricky and challenging tidal movements and sailing conditions which makes the races particularly exciting to watch. On shore, the entertainment during the week is legendary. There are balls, public and private parties, corporate events and shows, as well as plenty great hospitality and a famous fireworks display on the Friday night.
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Why? Live sailing at its best
When: There are events all day during the regatta
Where: Cowes, the Isle of Wight
Cost: Book your travel and accommodation early
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