From the year it started to the amount of glasses of bubbly consumed, find out some weird and wonderful facts about the biggest regatta in the world, Cowes Week

1. Cowes Week started in 1826

cowes week by Turner
The regatta was advertised in the Southampton Town and Country Herald on 31 July 1826.
The race was to be held on 10 August and the entry fee for yachts of any rig or tonnage was £2. The value of the Gold Cup was £100.


2. The oldest class to race is the Mermaids

mermaids class racing at Cowes Week

The Mermaids class race started in 1907 and it’s the oldest of the Cowes Week regatta.


3. Female competitors

Libby Greenhalgh

Women make up a third of all competitors at Cowes Week and half of the visitors.
Ladies Day was introduced in 2006 to champion women in sailing.

In the last 10 years, there’s been a 150% increase in women skippers taking part.

In 2015 Libby Greenhalgh was the 10th winner of the Ladies Day Trophy.


4. Queen Victoria presented the Queen’s Cup

queen victoria
Queen Victoria presented the Queen’s Cup to the Royal Southampton Yacht Club in 1897, the year of the monarch’s Diamond Jubilee.


5. All those races make you thirsty!



Over 50,000 glasses of Nyetimber English sparkling wine are drunk during Cowes Week to celebrate the successes of each day’s racing.


6. Big and small

Cowes Week


Small open day boats are referred to as the White Group whilst bigger boats – generally with cabins – are referred to as the Black Group


7.  How big?!

football pitch
The total sail area of all boats racing at the regatta would cover around 24 football pitches with sail cloth.


8. Processing the results is not an easy task

Cowes Week - Sunsail yacht racing
During an average regatta, over 8,000 finishing times, protests, declarations, retirements and disqualifications are processed. Out of these 150 will be protests.


9. Art inspiration

Raoul Dufy Regatta At Cowes

In the 20s and 30s, French painter Raoul Dufy created several artworks depicting the Cowes Week races and the Royal Yacht Squadron club.

One of his most famous paintings, Regatta at Cowes, hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. .

10. And the largest class is…

Cowes Week XOD Class

The largest class to race in the history of Cowes Week is the XOD fleet – in 2011 (the class centenary year) 146 boats entered.

11. Another massive yachting event was founded here: The America’s Cup!

Did you know...? 10 interesting facts about Cowes Week

When the New York Yacht Club staged a challenge race against the local Royal Yacht Squadron around the Isle of Wight in 1851, it sowed the seeds of the massive America’s Cup tournament we know and love today.

Continues below…

12. It all ends with a beautiful bang

 The America’s cup came about when the New York Yacht Club staged a challenge race at Cowes in 1951, throwing the gauntlet down against the local Royal Yacht Squadron! Since then, the America’s cup has grown and grown to the sailing phenomenon it is today.

After a glorious eight days of sailing, Cowes Week traditionally concludes with a stunning fireworks display. In fact, Cowes Week has ended with a bang in this fashion for over 150 years.


13. Lots of people are going to be there

100,000 people are expected to descend on the Isle of Wight for Cowes Week this year. As well as the gripping sailing action, there’ll also be festival activities including live music and specially-themed days.


14. Anyone can register to race!

You don’t even have to have a boat, anyone can rent a boat and enter the race at Cowes. You could have a go too!


15. King George V loved Cowes Week

George V, otherwise known as ‘the first gentleman of England’ loved sailing and, of course, Cowes Week. Amongst the rich history of Cowes Week, the Prince Regent very much enjoyed the event as a hangout for his rich and influential friends.