IT is one of the biggest and best-known sailing regattas in the world.
All eyes will be on the Isle of Wight from tomorrow as the annual Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week spectacular gets under way.
A jam-packed programme of exciting events is planned right across the week, which will see the world’s sailing industry descend onto the coastal town.
And this year’s festival will mark the moment warfare began on the seas during the First World War.
Cowes Week has become one of the UK’s longest running and most successful sporting events since it was launched in 1826. It now boasts between 800 and 1,000 boats in up to 40 different race classes across the eight days.
Going green This year’s event sails into action tomorrow with the British Marine Federation and Royal Yachting Association’s The Green Blue day initiative, which aims to help boat users and sailing clubs reduce their impact on coastal and inland waters.
Throughout the day visitors will be encouraged to take selfies or have photos taken of them doing something that would improve the environment.
Sunday will see the increasingly popular family day return.
It features RIB rides, the Cowes Cardboard Boat Race, and interactive performances from CBeebies presenter Andy Day featuring Shadow, the mischievous Tyrannosaurus Rex from Blackgang Chine.
There will also be a gravity-defying display from the Blades Aerobatic Display team at 7pm.
A minute’s silence will be held on Tuesday as Cowes Week marks the beginning of the First World War 100 years ago.
August 5 was the moment the first Naval gun was fired in anger during the conflict and HMS Mersey will perform a sail past for the occasion at 10am.
There will be a touch of glamour across the town on Thursday as the festival marks ladies’ day. The day culminates in an evening reception where a trophy is awarded to recognise the outstanding contribution, commitment, or achievement of women in sailing.
There are also a variety of sporting events to take part in thanks to event partners the Women’s Sport and Fitness Foundation.
Then on Friday the main part of Cowes Week draws to a spectacular close.
An RAF Typhoon
The RAF Typhoon will exert speeds of up to 690mph during a breathtaking display at 7.10pm.
Then at 7.30pm the iconic Red Arrows team will dazzle audiences and colour the skies red, white and blue.
The famous Cowes Week firework display, which starts at 9.30pm, is an integral part of the festival and is one of the most popular attractions year on year.
It is not just about the events and entertainment inland during Cowes Week, there is actually spectacular racing to enjoy.
Racing entries are up from last year and continue to increase year on year, according to Cowes Week sailing director Stuart Quarrie.
Sailing director Stuart Quarrie
He told the Daily Echo previous economic studies on the festival revealed it brings £5 million directly to Cowes and £60 million to the Isle of Wight through tourism throughout the year.
He said: “We try and make it a better place to visit every year. We listen to the competitors, sponsors, suppliers, and clubs and ask for their feedback.
“The changes tend to be pretty small – it’s evolution rather than revolution.
“It is a great festival. Sailing is the core but even if you are not a sailor it’s exciting to watch.
“Economically it’s very important as it is worth millions of pounds to the town of Cowes and the Isle of Wight during the week and the year.
World’s biggest “Even being laid back about it, it is one of the longest running and biggest regattas in the world and it is something sailors want to do at least once in their lives.”
Sailing charity UKSA is the Cowes Week chosen charity for two years and will be a prominent part of the festival.
Visitors will have the opportunity to encourage their boss to climb up a mast of the charity’s two Farr 65 yachts.
The “Boss up a Mast” fundraising spectacle will see senior executives locked into a harness 100ft up the mast and can only come down once they have gone through their mobile phone and urged their contacts to pledge donations to UKSA.
Chief executive Richard Thornton said: “Being the chosen charity for the next two years is a big step forward for UKSA, and falls nicely in line with our strategy to increase the number of young people on our pioneering youth development programmes.
“We have a range of exciting activities planned for the regatta, designed to promote inclusivity for all, and we want to show that sailing is more than just a hobby; it is a catalyst that transforms people’s lives.
“One of our key aims as official charity will be to raise enough funds to offer every Year 6 primary school child on the Island the opportunity to get on the water with UKSA.
“That’s some 1,600 children we would love to get afloat. It’s often an exciting yet challenging time for pupils, on the cusp of transition from primary to secondary school, and the confidence gained by new experiences such as those provided by UKSA can be really helpful.”