The first Southampton Sailing Week will be taking place from 24-29 May 2017 and will feature hundreds of craft of all sizes

Everything from small sail boats and dinghies to huge luxury yachts are set to feature in the first ever Southampton Sailing Week.

The inaugural event will start on 24 May.

A highlight of the week will be the Parade of Sail on 27 May along the city’s River Itchen.

It is expected that up to 500 different craft from in and around Southampton’s waters and the Solent will take to the water, including RIBS, canoes, kayaks and paddle boards.

Boats will gather at Northam and Itchen Bridges before setting off at 11am. The fleet will be led out by a Svitzer tug.

Event sponsor, Sunsail, is expected to enter 30 yachts into the parade, and scores of berth holders at local MDL marinas have already pledged to take part in the event.

Southampton Sailing Week will see the city awash with activity both on and off the water, including six days of racing in the Solent and regatta-style entertainment each evening.

The week will also feature plenty of opportunities for people to try their hand at sailing.

A female sailor wearing sunglasses

The week-long event is being backed by Dee Caffari. Credit: Lloyd Images

Sunsail will run a series of sailing taster days at MDL’s Ocean Village Marina, giving newcomers to the sport a chance to learn under the guidance of its expert sailing school instructors.

The organiser of Southampton Sailing Week, Chris Rees, said: “Southampton sits on one of the best stretches of water in the UK for sail racing, so it’s only right that it has its own celebration of sailing.”

Sunsail is also the title sponsor of the week’s corporate challenge, which will see businesses from across the Solent and beyond battle it out on the water for victory.

Sunsail’s matched fleet of Beneteau First 40s will take part in the Sunsail Corporate Challenge.

Sailing celebrities and Sunsail ambassadors Dee Caffari and Helena Lucas are also backing Southampton Sailing Week.

“Southampton Sailing Week is not just another regatta, it is a showcase week celebrating all the activities that take place in this vibrant area. What is really exciting is there are a multitude of ways to try and experience the water based activities throughout the week encouraging everyone to enjoy this area and its surroundings and be inspired to get involved,” said Caffari, who is the first woman to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in both directions.

“Running alongside the activities throughout the week will be some entertainment ashore so there really is something for everyone,” she added.

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Lucas said a sailing week for Southampton was long overdue.

“It’s fantastic that Southampton is finally having a week to celebrate sailing. I am amazed this has not happened before and hopefully the whole city will get involved and get out on the water. It will be a fantastic week for everyone, whether you’re a sailor already or never been out on the water, hopefully we will convert you!”

“Southampton has brilliant access to some amazing sailing conditions, with Southampton water and the Solent, one of the most famous stretches of water, on the doorstep! So please get involved and experience what Southampton has to offer as a city on the coast,” stated Lucas, who is a gold medal Paralympian.

Other events taking place during Southampton Sailing Week include:

A regatta party in the heart of the city, where revellers can sip on Southampton Sailing Week cocktails and socialise at a range of participating bars and restaurants (28 May)
Six days of racing on the water including the Sunsail Corporate Challenge
Free dinghy sailing sessions for schools, families, individuals and businesses at the Southampton Water Activities Centre
A ‘Classics on the Quay’ display of classic cars, supercars, bikes and scooters at MDL’s Shamrock Quay Marina
RIB treasure hunts with Solent Events
Daily charters
Model yacht racing