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Cowes Week and Fastnet Race Sailing Regattas

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COWES WEEK AND FASTNET RACE SAILING REGATTAS
by Eugen Beduhn

August is the time for Britainís most famous sailing regatta Cowes Week.The regatta takes place in and around Cowes on the Isle of Wight (www.cowes.co.uk).  Cowes Week, which is firmly part of the English Summer social Season, is held during the first week in August. Racing normally takes place over eight days from Saturday to Saturday as a highlight of the social and sporting calendar. The Fastnet Race is held every other year, in odd-numbered years. The Fastnet Race usually starts on the Sunday after Cowes Week. But let us start with Cowes Week first.

Cowes Week is held during the first week in August in the Eastern and Western Solent. The Solent is the name of the strip of water between the South Coast of England and the Isle of Wight.  Cowes Combined Clubs (+44-1983-295 744, www.cowesweek.co.uk) run the Regatta, which is an association of the famous Royal Yacht Squadron, the Royal London Yacht Club, the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club and other clubs based in Cowes. The Royal Yacht Squadron was founded in 1833 and still is Britainís premier sailing club. Prince Philipp has been Commodore of the Royal Yacht Squadron since 1964.

Cowes Week originated in the early 1800ís under King George IV (1820-1830) and with its many traditions has been part of the British Summer social season for many years. Every level of sailor can be found amongst the competitors. From whole families racing together to some of the world's finest professionals thus making for a spectacular week's sailing. August in the Solent can provide sailors with a truly mixed bag of weather and sea conditions. The area is not only famous for its double tides and commercial shipping but also for being able to produce a whole range of weather systems. From absolute calm to a strong breeze and back again - all in one day.

A normal day during Cowes Week witnesses as many as 30 race starts and the number of boats competing in over 200 races during the week has increased year by year with now almost 900 boats, including overseas entrants from more than 14 countries. For the sailor Cowes Week is not just for racing: there is a comprehensive social scene from parties and balls at the yacht clubs to private functions, with fireworks on the Friday evening to provide a wonderful finale for the week ending on Saturday. The atmosphere is a mixture of glamorous jet-setters, yachting professionals and local inhabitants of the island and the close mainland. 

The Fastnet Race will start on Sunday immediately after Cowes Week. The prestigious Fastnet race is organized by the Royal Ocean Racing Club in London (+44-20-7493 2248, www.rorc.org) and is expected to attract over 200 yachts from around the world to take part in the 608 mile race from Cowes to Plymouth via the Fastnet Rock.

The Fastnet race now retains its place in the racing calendar immediately after Cowes Week and is open to all, but does not anymore form part of the programme for the America's Cup. 

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