Cowes Week

4th August 2018

Cowes, Isle of Wight

During Cowes Week Hamble Service has been a manned Lifeboat station available to the Coastguard Agency with a better response time for the 100’s of yachts afloat during the week.

Cowes Week is one of the UK’s longest running and most successful sporting events and is a key highlight of the British sporting summer. It has been held in early August every year since 1826, except during the two world wars.

The first race was for a Gold Cup of the Value of £100, held in 1826 for just seven yachts under the flag of the Royal Yacht Club (which later became the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1833). The next year King George IV indicated his approval of the event by presenting a cup (the King’s Cup, presented at every subsequent event until 1939) to mark the occasion, and the event became known as Cowes Regatta. This was run as a three-day, then a four-day, event and quickly became part of the social calendar.

From 1946, other Cowes-based and mainland clubs organised racing either side of the three days and the regatta grew in size and popularity. The King’s Cup was replaced by the Britannia Cup, presented to the Royal Yachting Association by King George VI in 1950.

It was not until 1964 that, on the suggestion of HRH Prince Philip (a regular competitor and Admiral of the Royal Yacht Squadron), Cowes Combined Clubs was formed to run and organise the regatta. This body represented the seven clubs involved in managing the racing (Royal Yacht Squadron, Royal London Yacht Club, Royal Thames Yacht Club, Royal Southampton Yacht Club, Royal Southern Yacht Club, Island Sailing Club and Royal Ocean Racing Club) and Cowes Town Regatta Committee. The Royal Yacht Squadron line became the universal start line and there was one set of sailing instructions and racing marks for the Week.

The modern years

In 1995, following two years during which Cowes Week was supported by the County Council, Skandia came on board as title sponsors of the event. Around the same time, Cowes Week Sponsorship Limited was formed in order to manage all the sponsorship rights of the event.

In 2004, on its 40th anniversary, Cowes Combined Clubs moved into a new purpose-built Regatta Centre which was officially opened by HRH Prince Philip.

In 2007, Cowes Week Ltd was formed as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cowes Combined Clubs to provide a single management board with overall responsibility for policy decisions and strategic direction for the event. This management board has representatives from the many aspects of Cowes Week and ensures that the business operation of both the shore-side and racing elements of the event are managed in a more streamlined way.

Discover more at