Cowes Week is latest high-profile sporting event to be cancelled due to the pandemic

The best-known sailing event in the UK calendar has been cancelled in peacetime for the first time in its 194-year history.

Friday, 5th June 2020, 3:18 pm
Updated Friday, 5th June 2020, 3:19 pm
Sailing at Cowes Week last August. Picture: Paul A Smith.

Cowes Week, first held in 1826 off the Isle of Wight, is the latest high-profile sporting casualty of the pandemic.

The only times the event has not been staged since its inception was during the two world wars.

Traditionally, Cowes Week takes place in early August after Glorious Goodwood and before the Glorious Twelfth (the first day of the grouse shooting season) .

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Occasionally the traditional dates have been changed to ensure optimum racing, taking account of the tides or, as in 2012, to avoid a clash with the London Olympic.

Laurence Mead, Regatta Director, said: ‘We know that this will be a huge disappointment to many, as indeed it is to the team at Cowes Week.

‘We waited for as long as we realistically could to see how the situation might develop, on the basis that our competitors would want us to run the regatta if it were possible.

‘We appreciate the patience that everybody has shown while we have worked through different scenarios and would like to thank the hundreds of volunteers who have been on stand-by, ready to jump into action if needed.’

Kate Johnson, Commercial & Marketing Director, added: ‘We're grateful to our sponsors, who have been understanding while we worked through our plans and have been willing to stand with us during this very difficult time.

‘We know this will be disappointing for them, but also know that they agree that the health and safety of everyone concerned needs to be our primary consideration and that they view this as a responsible decision.’

Competitors already entered will be contacted in the next few days and will be invited to roll over their 2020 entry to the 2021 regatta which will take place between July 31-August 7.

Since 1964 Cowes Week has been organised by Cowes Combined Clubs. On the suggestion of HRH Prince Philip, the organisation represents seven clubs - Royal Yacht Squadron, Royal London Yacht Club, Royal Thames Yacht Club, Royal Southampton Yacht Club, Royal Southern Yacht Club, Island Sailing Club and Royal Ocean Racing Club - as well as the Cowes Town Regatta Committee.