The Isle of Wight is synonymous with sailing and the jewel in our nautical crown is the Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week.
From 6th to the 13th August (2016) Cowes becomes an ‘Apres Sail’ hub bursting with bars, shops, live music, kids’ activities and fab food, along with spectator boat trips to see the sailing action.
Here’s a round-up of what to look out for this Cowes Week.
Best Place to Watch from the Shore
Undoubtedly the best place to watch is in front of the start line at The Royal Yacht Squadron – if you can cope with the loud bangs of the start guns – and in the afternoon head down to Egypt Point to watch the fleet return home.
Best Race for Celeb Watching
The Artemis Challenge that is held on the Thursday of Cowes Week (August 11th, 2016) always attracts a strong list of celebrity guests. Teams competing in the race in the past have included sports stars Zara Phillips, Amy Williams, Will Greenwood, Mike Tindall and James Haskell, as well as other stars from the world of entertainment, including Ewan McGregor, Davina McCall and Bryan Adams. The race follows the classic America’s Cup route around the Isle of Wight, starting at 10am on the Royal Yacht Squadron Line.
Best Day for the Kids
Sunday 7th August (2016) is Family Day with a range of family-friendly activities and exclusive group offers. There are special free events on Cowes Parade, and family day activities at Shepherd’s Wharf and more at Northwood House above the town.
Best Way to see the Action from the Water
During the event, spectator boats go out on hour-long trips at 11am, 12.30pm and 2pm, departing from Trinity Landing on Cowes Parade and bookings can be made here. Each trip costs £12.50 for an adult and £8 for a child.
For a 60 minute blast across the Solent book a RIB rides – they depart at 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1.30pm, 2.30pm and 3.30pm and bookings for this can be made here. Each trip costs £35 for an adult and £25 for a child.
Best Way to Try Before You Buy
Official Charity, UKSA is running ‘open to all’ sailing sessions; an hour’s sailing tuition with their instructors each day between 9.30am and 6pm, for just £5. Simply visit them at their stand on Cowes Yacht Haven. If you fancy going one step further and trying your hand at some racing action, then there a number of racing options available too.
Best Way to Keep up with the Results
Racing action is streamed live and direct from the start and finish lines with commentated footage available on the event website. In addition, EventTV, the event’s dedicated broadcast channel, will be shown on screens throughout Cowes giving the action live onscreen, highlights footage and up-to-date news and the all-important results! You can also stay tuned to the event radio station, Cowes Radio, on 87.7FM.
Best Way to Get in some Apres Sail
There’s no shortage of things to see and do ashore with stalls in along the front and in the yacht haven, plus Cowes boasts a host of clothing and lifestyle shops where you can indulge in some retail therapy, as well as many art galleries and antique shops. You can enjoy a coffee or long lunch at one of the many pubs or restaurants, pay a visit to Cowes Maritime Museum on Beckford Road, or the Sir Max Aitken Museum on the High Street. Or hop on the floating bridge to East Cowes and visit Osborne House, once Queen Victoria’s holiday home.
Best Places for Live Music
Cowes Yacht Haven has the largest live music venue, the Gill Stage, with live music every night that includes a host of very good local bands and Cowes Parade also has a stage and live music from midday every day until 10.30pm.
Shephard’s Wharf is the official public site dedicated to crews, friends and family, and it’s just a few minutes’ walk from the high street (near the chain ferry) on Medina Road with live acoustic acts, delicious food and a great selection of beers and cocktails. Last year this venue hosted the 151 Club from Chelsea, and the Mount Gay Red Cap party.
The Anchor pub in the High Street has a comprehensive live music line up through the week and there will also be live music and magic from buskers in the High Street from around noon till 6pm.
Make sure you head up to Northwood House to enjoy a drink whilst listening to some chilled out tunes in the Lawn Lounge Bar. Open between 11am and late, DJ’s play chilled Balearic-style lounge beats and there are relaxed acoustic sounds from top island performers.
Set in the beautiful green space of Northwood Park, only a stone’s throw from all the main action, there’s a gin festival in the spacious stretch marquee bar or on the House lawn this Cowes Week with Gin and Jazz evenings , so dress to impress. northwoodhouse.org
During the day you can take the kids to the traditional Victorian funfair with rides such as the carousel, mini train, chairoplane or helter skelter. Or have ago at climbing a spectacular 25 metre high Turkey Oak tree in Northwood Park with Goodleaf Tree Climbing. Book via the Goodleaf website or simply turn up and climb (subject to availability). Tree climbers must be aged 8 and over.
On Wednesday and Sunday there are outdoor film screenings from The Extraordinary Travelling Film Theatre and you can vote for the film of your choice at the website. www.travellingfilmshow.co.uk/