Skandia Cowes Week

Sailing in Cowes

Skandia Cowes Week is a huge event in the British sporting calendar. With 40 races every day and over 1,000 boats on show, it's the largest sailing regatta in the world! Cowes Week lasts for eight days and takes place every August in the Solent waters off Cowes in the United Kingdom.


Cowes Week takes place after Glorious Goodwood and before the Glorious Twelfth (the first day of the grouse shooting season). The first race was for a “Gold Cup of the Value of £100”, held in 1826. The following year King George IV showed his approval of the event and presented the 'King's Cup', presented at every event until 1939. The early 1900's saw Cowes Regatta build in size and popularity, showcasing an array of sailing vessels. In the decades following World War II, yachting moved away from its image as a rich man's sport to modest self-skippered 30 foot yachts. In 1995, following two years during which Cowes Week was supported by the County Council, Skandia became official sponsor of the event.

Join in the fun

The event is open to amateur sailors as well as Olympic and World Champions. The eight-day racing programme offers something for people from all walks of life, ages and abilities. If you'd like to take part in the sailing, get in touch with Cowes Combined Clubs. The Notice of Regatta are published in March / April every year with an entry form for competitors.


Berthing in Cowes during the Regatta is in high demand. It is advisable to get your berthing sorted out sooner rather than later to avoid disappointment. Shepards Wharf Marina has undergone major re-development in recent years. It's now a vibrant venue and home to a crew bar, restaurant, trading village and nightclub during Skandia Cowes Week. For those wanting a quieter berthing alternative during Skandia Cowes Week, the re-developed marina in East Cowes, with new 'Club Style' facilities, is another option. If you do not require a walk ashore facility, there are a number of options within the harbour. Swinging Moorings in Cowes Roads or pontoons south of the chain ferry are both available via Cowes Harbour Commission.

Not just for sailors

As well as competitive sailing, Skandia Cowes Week has provided entertainment for the 100,000 tourists from around the world who flock to the Isle of Wight every year for this event. Over the years the regatta has been visited by royalty and world-famous celebrities as well as naval warships, super yachts and square-riggers. Each class is made up using the IRC (International Rating System) which ranks the yachts' individual measurements. Class Zero has the biggest boats (up to 30 metres long) and Class Seven, the smallest.

Party time

Why not soak up the Solent sun and the party atmosphere and enjoy the parties and live entertainment. With plenty of pubs, bars and restaurants to choose from, Cowes Week provides carnival entertainment for everyone. If you are not planning to sail there is plenty to do during the day as well as at night. The High Street has a wide choice of art galleries, antiques, clothing and gift. A spectacular firework display on the Friday evening is watched by tens of thousands of people from the shore and from hundreds of boats off the sea front.

Getting there

For visitors from abroad, the nearest airports are either Eastleigh (Southampton) or Hurn (Bournemouth) but all of the London airports are within easy reach by taxi or train. There is also a heliport (tel. +44(0) 1983 280909) in Cowes especially for the regatta.

There are regular ferries to and from the Island and even during Skandia Cowes Week there is no need to book as a foot passenger. However, if you plan to bring a car to the Island (remember that parking at Cowes is very limited), then bookings are essential.

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