Cowes week with Sunsail
The harbourside town of Cowes on the Isle of Wight is a pleasure to explore any time of the year, but it comes alive each summer for Cowes Week. The harbour is flooded with white yachts polished to perfection and shining in the sunshine, and teams come from all over the world to compete in the UK’s biggest regatta. I was lucky enough to join Sunsail, the event’s official charter sailing partner, on Ladies Day to sail alongside the action.
We headed to West Cowes from Southampton on the speedy Red Jet ferry, arriving in glorious sunshine as the boats were getting ready to head out on the water. Our all-female yacht crew, including our amazing lady skipper, were ready to follow the action after a speedy sailing lesson. I was feeling pretty rusty after years off deck but was soon winching ropes and even steering our Sunsail Match First 40 towards the horizon. Sunsail are the only charter company to have a dedicated racing class at Cowes, with the Sunsail Racing Series pitting competitors against one another in a fleet of Sunsail Match First 40s, and we watched them battle it out on the seas from our own boat.
I’ve only ever sailed with all female-crews so I can’t speak for how the boys go about crewing, but an all-girl contingent is always hilarious fun, and there’s nothing more exhilarating than rushing about busily as your yacht glides at a tidy clip through the water. The view back to Cowes made our journey even more special.
Ladies Day at Cowes happens to be sponsored by Slingsby gin, which meant there were ice-cold glasses of gin and tonic ready when we arrived back in the harbour, tired and salty-haired. That evening we swapped sailing clothes for striped dresses for the Slingsby Gin Ladies Day Evening Reception at elegant Northwood House – there was just enough time for celebratory bubbles before I caught the last ferry back to real life. It might be time for me to run away to sea.
Sailing Cowes Week with SunSail in 2017 from the 29 July – 5 August 2017. All levels of sailor are catered for, so whether you’re an absolute beginner or a seasoned skipper you can join in with the racing or hire a bareboat package for the week or the day.