Cowes Week: Apart from the Maelstrom

 Photo: E. Dean / Topical Press Agency / Getty Images

When World Wars and tide timetables allow, Cowes week has always sandwiched itself in the social calendar between Glorious Goodwood and the Glorious Twelfth. It is, whether one’s a salt-rimed sea-dog or a lugubrious landlubber, equally and undeniably as glorious as either.

You will, of course, find those that will tell you that the country (including the Isle of Wight) has gone to the dogs, and that the current typhoon of 8,000 competitors in 1,000 boats whistling round the Solent is a tawdry affair compared to the gentlemanly days of 1826, when just seven vessels raced one another under the flag of the Royal Yacht Club. Pay them no heed and remember that if the country has indeed gone to the dogs then that’s a good thing. After all, we like dogs.

It is true, however, that one doesn’t just jump aboard the nearest dinghy, drop the centre-board and set sail. With forty races a day for eight days straight, the organisation must be a headache for whichever steely-eyed ex-admiral’s in charge - and it’s safe to assume that if there’s one thing more dangerous than an admiral on the beach it’s an admiral on the beach nursing a headache.

So instead of getting yelled at by apoplectic old mariners on shore or bellowed at by boisterous young second lieutenants on deck, we’d suggest digging out the binoculars, popping a boater on the bonce, rolling up the old trouser legs and watching from the safety of the shore.

You’ll find everything you need to know at