With 132,000 people living on the Isle of Wight, 80,000 visitors make an impact 31/07/06

Just seven boats raced in the inaugural Cowes regatta in 1826. 180 years on, over a thousand boats and eight-and-a-half thousand sailors are competing. Stepping off the Red Jet it’s obvious that Cowes is pulling-in an ever-growing horde of crowds. The Isle of Wight has a population of just 132,000, making the 80,000 visitors who charge over to drink, sail and shop during Skandia Cowes Week are big news for a small island. Yachtingworld.com took a walk through the beer tents and the High Street to try and gauge the impact on local business.

Cowes Yacht Haven
Almost 200 boats berth in the haven each night, over half of these are corporate. If you want to stay next year, you’ll need to book your place before Christmas! Visitors take 1,500 showers a day and the Haven double the number of staff, but employ just one cleaner!

3,500 people hit the beer tents every night. Over 100 staff work here during the week, 10 of whom are employed just to pick up the plastic glasses left behind at the crack of dawn. We spoke to bartender Steve, he may be behind the bar, but he doesn’t get much chance to enjoy his wares. It seems sleep is generally order of the day.

The High Street: facts and figures

Somerfields supermarket
20 extra staff for the week, helping to sell:
100 cases – 600 bottles – of champagne
100 cases – 600 bottles – of Mount Gay Rum
150 cases – 900 bottles – of Pimms
Sell up to 20,000 bottles of water and 7,000 sandwiches during the week.

Tiffins – The legendary bacon baguettes retailer
There were 2,000 baguettes sold yesterday, today looks to be a similar number. 520 of these are pre-ordered packed lunches, which are picked up by crews in the morning before they race.
With approximately 20 pieces of bacon per baguette, Tiffins uses 40,000 rashers of bacon a day. That adds up to more than a quarter of a million rashers during Skandia Cowes week. That’s a lot of pig? ?125 by our local butcher’s estimation.

Opening hours are extended during Cowes Week, from 07:00 rather than 08.30, but hungry people are still walking over the chairs at 18:00. Sharon says it’s difficult to turn people away but, “We have to draw the line somewhere, the staff are here from 06:00.” Staff numbers are more than doubled during the week one even works through the night, preparing vegetables, salads, slicing 8-10 boxes of tomatoes and shredding 5 cases of lettuce.

Pier View Public House
Usually just two bar staff, during Cowes Week there’s ten. Six work behind the bar, there’s a manager, one outside, and two glass collectors! Fireworks night also also requires an extra two security men. That’s a six hundred percent increase in staffing!