Cowes Week is one of the UK’s longest running and most successful sporting events. With up to 1000 boats and 8000 competitors taking part in up to 40 races per day, it is also one of the largest and most unique sailing regattas of its kind in the world.
A Rich History
The first regatta took place almost 200 years ago, in August 1826 and we will be celebrating our bicentennial year in August 2026. It was held under the flag of the Royal Yacht Club, which later became the Royal Yacht Squadron, with the prize of a ‘Gold Cup of the value of £100’. Over the years, the regatta has grown in popularity and size. By 1953, nine days of racing were provided, with each club running its own event, with its own sailing instructions, racing marks and start/finish lines. By 1964, the clubs had agreed to run an integrated series of races organised by a single body. Cowes Combined Clubs (CCC) has nine members – eight yacht clubs (Royal Yacht Squadron Racing; Royal Thames Yacht Club; Royal Southern Yacht Club; Royal London Yacht Club; Royal Southampton YC; Island Sailing Club; Royal Ocean Racing Club; Cowes Corinthian YC) and the Cowes Town Regatta committee. The universal start line is the Royal Yacht Squadron line and there is a single set of sailing instructions and racing marks for the week.
The Queen’s Cup was presented to the Royal Southampton Yacht Club by Queen Victoria in 1897 and has traditionally been awarded by the RSY on the first Saturday of the event. The Britannia Cup, presented to the Royal Yachting Association by King George, is awarded to the winner of the class nominated by the Royal Yacht Squadron on the Tuesday of the event. The New York Yacht Club Challenge Cup is awarded to the winner of the class nominated by the Royal Yacht Squadron on the Wednesday of the event. The Young Skipper’s Trophy is awarded to the skipper (under 25-years) who achieves the best results over the course of the week. A special Scottish quaich Overall Winner Trophy is awarded to the overall winner of Cowes Week. The Overall Winner Trophy is awarded to the winner of either Black Group or White Group, determined by the overall winner on points.