ABERDEEN Asset Management Cowes Week 2014 has been hailed a multi-million pound success.
Organisers have praised the exciting racing, the hustle bustle of the high street, and the variety of entertainment on offer, as the Isle of Wight basks in a seven-figure windfall thanks to the famous regatta.
Some 300,000 people – more than the population of Southampton – have passed through the town to savour the festival, while nearly 60,000 enjoyed the spectacular air and firework displays on Friday.
With it, they have generated around £6million for Cowes, and even more for the whole of the Isle of Wight through tourism as the year progresses.
Stuart Quarrie, chief executive of event organisers Cowes Week Ltd, hailed this year’s festival as a success, despite a lack of sea breeze hampering racing.
He said: “The last few days have been really hard for racing. Thursday was a lovely day but the sea breeze came in too late, and we had to abandon racing on Friday, which is disappointing.
“As a whole, the racing has been good, with 36 classes and 800 boats taking part – most people have been happy with it.
“On shore, Cowes has looked and felt really good. I can’t say if numbers are up on last year but when you are walking down the high street, it takes an age to do so because there are so many people. Cowes has a lovely feel to it.”
Mr Quarrie said Cowes Week doesn’t have to grow but it needs to sustain itself economically by continuing to attract competitors and visitors.
He added: “Whether it has to continue to grow is a moot point, but it needs to sustain itself as a huge regatta, with a huge range of sailors and types of boats, and the tens of thousands of people that enjoy the week. It's a vital part of the economy.
“Personally my highlight of the week was standing outside the regatta centre after a great day of racing and hearing people saying what a great time they’ve had – and I have had several of those moments.”
That Cowes Week is still a huge draw has been proved again by an impressive cast list in 2014.
The Duke of Edinburgh, the Princess Royal, Zara Phillips, Mike Tindall, Simon Le Bon and Pippa Middleton have all graced the event this year – mixing with the 7,000 sailors taking to the water each day.
Pippa Middleton was among the famous faces drawn to Cowes Week 2014
John Metcalfe, the Isle of Wight Council’s director of economy, tourism, and leisure, said Cowes Week was an opportunity to put the island on the map.
Mr Metcalfe said: "Once again we are talking of numbers of around 250,000 to 300,000 people attending Cowes Week, and that is of the benefit of the Cowes yachting trademark.
"We are very fortunate that the weather has been brilliant this year.
"A couple of years back we carried out an economic study and found that it brings £5million through Cowes Week and the yachting circle brings in £26million a year - we are very fortunate to have that type of event that emanates from the yachting world here.
"Cowes Week is extremely important for the island."