What was the first boat built in Cowes? When was the first race run?
For some interesting facts about the world’s biggest sailing regatta – now in its 184th year – read on…..
The first boat built in Cowes was the Rat O’Wight, commissioned by Elizabeth I in 1589.
Cowes Week is the largest regatta of its kind in the world. It organizes 40 races daily for over 1,000 boats and about 8,500 competitors.
Over 800 cannons are fired to mark the race starts and finishes during an average week.
The Royal Yacht Squadron was once the Yacht Club. It became the first ‘Royal’ Yacht Club in 1820 when one of its members, the Prince Regent, became King George IV.
The Yacht Club was established way back in 1815 in St James Street, London, but moved to Cowes Castle in 1825. It was renamed the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1833.
The first Cowes Week race started on Thursday 10 August 1826.
The America’s Cup took its origins from Cowes in 1851 when the New York based yacht ‘America’ won the race around the Isle of Wight. They won the Squadron’s 100 Guinnea Cup and gave the trophy its name.
Over 100,000 visitors make their way to Cowes each year for the regatta, outnumbering the town’s population of 9,663.
The youngest skipper at Cowes Week last year was 13 years old. (In 2008, it was 12 years.)
The biggest ever class was the Laser SB3s in 2007 with 98 boats.
If all the shoes worn by sailors during Cowes Week were put end to end, they would reach across the Solent from Cowes to Southampton – that’s almost 10 miles.
The most successful male skipper in the last decade is Rupert Mander (Men Behaving Badly) with 37 wins. The most successful female skipper is Liz Savage with 23 wins.
The Royal Yacht Squadron Castle is one of two ‘Cows’ or castles built by Henry VIII in the 1500s to protect the English from potential French or Spanish invasion. The other ‘Cow’ was in East Cowes, but no longer exists.
Royal Yacht Squadron members are allowed to fly the White Ensign of the Royal Navy rather than the Red Ensign, flown by the majority of UK registered vessels.