Take a look at our essential guide to find out what you really need to know about Cowes Week

What is Cowes Week?

Cowes Week is one of the best know sailing regattas in the world. It is certainly one of the longest running, having first taken place in 1826. That’s 68 years before Yachting World was first published!

It has been held in August every year since then (except during the two World Wars). Over the years the regatta has been visited by royalty and other world-famous personalities as well as naval warships, superyachts and square-riggers.

Yachting World has covered the event from our very first issue. We have plenty of fascinating guides, tips on winning and live streaming video over at our Cowes Week page

What are this year’s dates?

This year the regatta will be held 8-15th August. The event lasts for eight days and takes place every August at Cowes on the Isle of Wight.

How many yachts are competing?

Between 800 and 1,000 yachts. The participants are split up into 40 classes, from modern multihulls, IRC yachts and classic dayboats.

RACING TIP: Cowes Week Tactics: use our local knowledge to get the best out of racing in the Solent

Who competes? What type of racing is it?

The event hosts amateur sailors alongside Olympic atheletes and professional sailors, with a wide range of ages and abilities.

What type of racing is it?

The majority of classes start and finish on the Royal Yacht Squadron line and sail varied ’round-the-cans’ courses designed to suit the style of boat and prevailing wind and tide conditions on each day. A number of classes also sail courses from a committee boat start on certain days.

It’s a logistical feat, with 1000 boats sailing some 30 different courses in one of the busiest commercial stretches of water in the world.

RACING TIP: Cowes Week sea breeze – getting to know your typical Solent summer winds

How do I watch the racing at Cowes?

The majority of classes start and finish on the Royal Yacht Squadron line while, just to the West, The Green offers a panoramic viewing platform of the yachts cheating the tide as they battle their way to the finish.

In addition, there are opportunities to get afloat to watch the racing from the organised spectator boat.

HIGHLIGHT: The Solent Sunbeam- a pretty dayboat that has been a stalwart of Cowes Week for nearly 90 years. Find out more here

I can’t attend. How can I follow the racing?

The Yachting World team is presenting the daily video highlights and will be part of the live streaming video that you can watch on the Yachting World website.

Alternatively, for results and official information on courses, updates on racing, plus interviews, listen in to Cowes Radio on 87.7FM.

What rating system is used?

Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week uses three different rating systems, IRC and ISCRS for monohulls and MOCRA for multihulls.

Details of the systems are provided below:


This rating system is used by offshore multihulls and is administered by MOCRA Sailing who can be contacted at simonforbes3@gmail.com or at www.mocra-sailing.co.uk. Typically about a dozen of these fast and exciting boats take part in Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week.


A fully international rating system that is used by many thousands of boats worldwide. Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week has 8 classes racing under this system all week. This ensures tight rating bands and close racing in fleets between 30 and 60. Ratings can be obtained from www.rorcrating.com. Owners who only enter one or two IRC races a year are able to apply for an IRC Single Event Rating at a reduced price. Further details here.


ISCRS is a simple rating system that has been developed by the Island Sailing Club to provide a rating system for those who do not require the sophistication of IRC. This system is free but you must be prepared to take the rating you are given! At Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week we offer cruisers that do not normally race the chance to take part in the regatta using this system. This is especially aimed at the hundreds of cruising boats that take part in the annual J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race and which therefore have a rating. If you do not already have an ISCRS rating and wish to enter this class then please contact us.

Who organises the racing?

Cowes Combined Clubs was formed in 1964 to co-ordinate the racing. Each of the member Clubs (Royal Thames YC, Royal London YC, Royal Southampton YC, Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes Town Regatta, Island Sailing Club, Royal Southern YC, Royal Corinthian YC and the Royal Ocean Racing Club) plays an active role in running the racing during the event while the overall coordination is handled by the Executive Management Team and staff of the Cowes Week Ltd organisation.

I’d like to enter my boat for next year. What do I do?

The Notice of Regatta is available to download here and you can enter online here.