America's Cup World Series
Last week, at the other end of The Solent, off Portsmouth, saw a sailing event in the sharpest possible contrast to Cowes' classic tradition: round one of the America's Cup World Series leading to the 2017 America's Cup in Bermuda. Challenging for this, one of the oldest trophies in sport - it was first raced in 1870 in New York harbour, using a trophy won from the British in 1851 in Cowes - is a team led by Sir Ben Ainslie. At 38 Ben is the most successful sailor in the history of the Olympic Games with one Silver and four Gold medals to his credit (he started young) and has already been part of an America's Cup winning team. The boats used Ben Ainslie Racing 45ft Catamaranare the cutting edge of 21st century wind-driven craft: 45ft catamarans propelled not by conventional sails but by a huge vertically-mounted wing and rising clear of the water on slender foils to skim the sea at speeds up to and even more than 45 miles per hour. And while there is still a long way to go to the next America's Cup match itself, Ben's Land-Rover BAR team started their campaign with a win in this opening canter: so it's 'so far, so good...'
Cowes Week 2015
Rounding off this mid-summer feast of sailing comes that great festival of yachting and yacht racing, Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, to run from 8th- 15th August. The first Cowes Regatta was held in 1826, run by the Royal Yacht Club as the Squadron was then called, and soon grew from a one-day to a two- and then three-day regatta. When yachting resumed after the Second World War the other clubs in Cowes began organising their own regattas either side of the Squadron's regatta and Cowes Week became at one stage nine days of racing, each regatta organised by a different club - with different courses, different start lines, different entry formalities and different sailing instructions. It was not until the 1960's, when Prince Cowes Week RacingPhilip, himself a keen yachtsman, famously told the various clubs to 'pull their finger out' and get together to provide uniformity that Cowes Combined Clubs was formed and now runs the regatta with a common organisation. It is some undertaking, with over 1,000 yachts racing in upwards of 40 different classes from four different start lines and two different finish lines. And that's only the sailing. Cowes Week is also one long procession of après-sailing cocktail parties, balls and dinners; not forgetting the closing firework display on the final Friday.
The perfect opportunity to experience this fascinating world of waves, it's not too late to get out and into the action with our Cowes Week Race Charter or sit back and soak up the sights with our Cowes Week Hospitality packages.
And if all that's not enough - the really hard ones start on the 600-mile Fastnet Race from Cowes to Plymouth via the eponymous rock off the south-east coast of Ireland on the Sunday.
A real summer of sails.