Cowes Week, the key social event in the yachting world, can be a little mystifying to the uninitiated. Why not allow round-the-world yachtsman and author, Caspar Craven, to guide you around?
Don't know your broad reach from your boom? Here's a very quick guide to yachting etiquette, ahead of the saltiest event in the British social calendar. Cowes Week is the longest running, and largest sailing regatta of its kind in the world; it started in 1826. It's held at the beginning of August each year, (this year 4-11th August 2018) and named Cowes Week, after the town on the Isle of Wight, which hosts the event.
Although prestigious, this world-famous sailing event is open to anyone to register and race. You don't even need to own a boat - you can actually rent one and enter the race at Cowes. The racing takes place over eight days, with 8,000 competitors taking part, and 1,000 boats in some 350 races.
Yet you can also stay on dry land. The event is equally famous for being part of the British summer season with over 100,000 people making their way across the Solent - that's the stretch of water between the mainland South Coast of England and the Isle of Wight. People come to soak up the atmosphere along the waterfront, and watch the firework display on the final Friday of the event.
Cowes Week is organised by the town's famous yacht club, The Royal Yacht Squadron. Originally simply known as 'The Yacht Club' and established in 1815 in St James Street, London, it became the first Royal Yacht club in 1820, when one of its members, the Prince Regent, acceded to the throne as King George IV. The club relocated to Cowes Castle in 1825 and began staging the event the following year. The America's Cup tournament can trace its history back here, to the summer of 1851, when the New York- based yacht America won the race around the Isle of Wight.
Of course, you don't really need to know all the histrionics to enjoy Cowes Week. However, a few basic pieces of yachting etiquette might help. For instance: always ask permission to come aboard a boat, yachties can be very territorial; flat-soled deck shoes or sailing boots are best suited to an afternoon on the water, other footwear can damage yachts and are, in some cases, dangerous. Don't go peeping into the hatches of neighbouring yachts, it's tempting, but also a terrible invasion of privacy; and always remove fenders when sailing, if you don't, you really will look like a first-timer.
Caspar Craven is a sought-after keynote speaker on the topics of leadership, team building, and dealing with adversity. He engages business audiences with stories from sailing twice around the world, and delivers practical, specific lessons that audiences can understand and use in their day-to-day lives. His book Where the Magic Happenswas published by Bloomsbury in the summer of 2018. www.casparcraven.com
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