Cowes Week racing

Lendy Cowes Week 2018

Our top tips for the UK's biggest regatta

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Lendy Cowes Week is here, so it’s time to take a closer look at what you can expect to see and do with Sunsail’s essential guide. Whether you’re a seasoned competitor, an avid spectator or a first-timer, the Glastonbury of sailing has something for everyone, without the mud, so read on to find out how to make the most of it.

The Lendy Cowes Week Essentials

The sailing world flocks to the Solent each August for one of the most iconic, well-known and longest running regattas on the planet. For eight days between the 29th of July and the 5th of August, the waters off Cowes on the Isle of Wight will come to life, teeming with racing yachts of all shapes, speeds and sizes. And for eight nights, so will the beer tents and bars, with a packed schedule of evening entertainment at every turn.

Around 1,000 boats, split across 40 different classes, will compete daily, spanning the pantheon of entrants, from professionally crewed carbon fibre record breakers to amateur enthusiasts in classic, traditional craft. A truly cosmopolitan event, Lendy Cowes Week sees the full spectrum of keel boat sailing come out to play.

And that’s far from all. On top of approximately 8,000 competitors, the streets of Cowes will fill with up to 100,000 visitors, who turn up to watch the racing and immerse themselves in the unique festival culture that takes over the entire town. Expect parties and evening entertainment to start early and finish late, every night, as an array of bars, pubs and restaurants spring to life and get in on the act.

The best things for spectators to do:

Watch some yacht racing

Every day at Cowes Week offers unique opportunities, but the best way to start the day is to take in a bit of the action. Whether you park yourself on the start line near the highly esteemed Royal Yacht Squadron, or jump on a RIB to get out on the water and close to the action, we highly recommend you see as many different classes as you can during your visit, to really get under the skin of the event. 

yacht-racing-cowes week

Hang out in the official race village

The race village is full of great pop-up bars and food stalls, as well as a stage featuring live entertainment day and night. A good space to relax and people watch during the day, it really comes into its own each evening as thirsty sailors bound up the pontoons, weather beaten, exhausted and in need of beer and banter.

Stroll through lively Cowes

Explore the postcard perfect town of Cowes, complete with cobbled high street and a colourful array of bars, pubs, shops and restaurants. You’ll find the streets are bustling during Cowes Week, from morning ‘till night.

Cowes High Street

Key dates for your diary

Family Day, Sunday 5 August

Fun for all the family, with activities planned on Cowes Parade, Shepards Wharf Marina and Northwood House. There’ll be face painting and glitter tattoo stalls to be found on Cowes High Street, while up at Northwood House, families will find a Victorian fun fair and falconry displays to enjoy.

Charity Day, Monday 6 August

This year’s official charity for Lendy Cowes Week is the Andrew Simpson Foundation. An organisation dedicated to breaking down barriers for young people to participate in sailing with the aim of improving health, well-being and the development of personal skills.

So look out for all of the fun ways you can get involved in supporting this great charity both on the day and throughout the week.

On the day spectators will be able to watch the ‘Cowes Bash’ race, followed by the Big Bash party at the Cowes Yacht Haven after the sailing. Through the week you’ll be able to find the charity based on their stall on Cowes Parade.

ELEMIS Ladies Day, Tuesday 7 August

A day dedicated to celebrating women in sailing. It is traditional for women to wear Breton stripes on the day to show their support. Keep an eye out for appearances and talks featuring some of the greatest women to ever set foot aboard a yacht.

The day will culminate in the ELEMIS Ladies’ Day awards at Northwood House, where a great reception is followed by the awarding of the Ladies Day trophy to the female sailor of the year.

The awards ceremony is invitation only but if you can’t get yourself in, you may still find yourself the recipient of some ELEMIS prizes, which will be awarded on the spot to the most stylish ladies in navy & white, all over Cowes, all day.

Red Arrows and Fireworks, Friday 10 August

Turn your eyes to the skies on Friday as the Red Arrows come to town at 19.30, before the traditional regatta fireworks display brings the week to an explosive finale at 21.30. There had been talk that the fireworks would not be staged this year, but new title sponsor Lendy stepped in and secured their continuation, so make sure you get a good spot for viewing on Cowes Parade, the Cowes Yacht Haven pontoons or up the hill at Northwood House.


What Sunsail are up to

This year, as ever, Sunsail will be in the thick of the action all week as we take over the Cowes Yacht Haven and make it our home from home once again.

As usual we’ll bring our matched fleet of Sunsail F40s over to compete in their own class throughout the week. Last year’s competition was fierce, and we expect nothing less this year. To find out more, see our website.

We’ll have a special competition open to all entrants and spectators, to win a seven-day sailing holiday in Croatia, including return flights.We'll also be raising money for the 1851 Trust every day by giving people the opportunity to put their puff to the test in our gutter boat racing competition. So whether you play for prizes, or for pride and bragging rights, come and show us what you are made of.

Last but not least, we’ll be assembling and sending out a top team of female sailors of all experience levels to race on Ladies Day.


One thing’s for sure, you can’t miss our stand right next to the beer tent, so come along for a chat whenever you like. For more information visit the official Lendy Cowes Week website or head back to our blog homepage.

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