Located on the west bank of the River Medina, Cowes (often known as West Cowes) has a population of circa 12,000 people.
It is believed that the building of an 80-ton, 60-man vessel called Rat O'Wight on the banks of the River Medina in 1589 for the use of Queen Elizabeth I sowed the seed for Cowes to grow into a world-renowned centre of boat-building. The town has been the spiritual home of yacht racing since the founding of the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1815 and is home to many Yacht Clubs. It also gives its name to the world's oldest regular regatta, Cowes Week, which occurs annually in the first week of August.
The sport remains at the heart of the town, supporting yacht building and maintenance and a hive of social activity with many keen sailors, socialites and spectators visiting the town for the summer regattas.
Much of the town's architecture is still heavily influenced by the style of ornate building that Prince Albert popularised. Cowes is connected to East Cowes via a chain ferry which accommodates passengers, cars and light vans.
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