Sailing and racing are words that are synonymous with Cowes and this reputation is largely based on the activities of the various sailing and yacht clubs that have bases in Cowes and East Cowes.
Royal Yacht Squadron
Founded in 1815, the Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS) is one of the oldest and most prestigious yacht clubs in the world.
The clubhouse is set in the iconic Cowes Castle, a familiar local landmark which was built in 1539 as part of Henry VIII’s chain of coastal defences. These days, the cannon in front of the Castle signal the start of races, rather than approaching invaders.
In front of the Castle, at the western end of The Parade near The Green, provides a spectacular spot to watch the starts during Cowes Week and other major events. The RYS has an active racing and cruising programme which can be found on their website.
Royal Ocean Racing Club, Cowes
The Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) was founded in 1925 in Plymouth following the very first Fastnet race. RORC is involved in the organisation of offshore racing events around the world and hosts a busy schedule of both inshore regattas in the Solent and cross-channel races, including the Vice Admiral’s Cup and the Rolex Fastnet Race.
In Cowes, the RORC maintains two locations: the RORC Cowes Clubhouse and the Disrespect in which the RORC Race Team are based. The RORC Cowes Clubhouse is located at the water’s edge at the end of the Parade. Its grounds possess unrivalled sea views over the Solent and provide a perfect spot for members, visiting yachtsmen and guests to have lunch and watch the day’s sailing. The Clubhouse also has twelve well-appointed bedrooms, four of which have en-suite facilities.
Royal London Yacht Club
The Royal London Yacht Club (RLYC) has a full programme of both racing and social events, including an active Younger Members’ division. Originally founded in London in 1838, membership is exclusive, limited to just 500. The Club’s home since 1868 is an elegant Regency house on The Parade in Cowes, with some of the finest views across the Solent.
RLYC organises and hosts Cowes Classics Week, the largest regatta of its type in the world. In 2020, the Club will host a number of other regattas including Propsail, the Bank of England Sailing Club and the Arrow Trophy. The Club offers full facilities, excellent accommodation and catering including fine dining.
Island Sailing Club
The Island Sailing Club (ISC) is one of the busiest and biggest in Britain, with over 1,600 members. The club organises the world famous Round the Island Race, which takes place on 26th September this year, and regularly attracts over 12,000 competitors.
ISC offers a busy sailing programme with racing both midweek and at the weekends. Its popular Tuesday night racing from April to September is open to anyone, and regattas, training and events are run throughout the season.
A fleet of Sonar keelboats, perfect for sailors of all abilities, can be hired by individuals, families or organisations. The excellent bar and restaurant facilities provide stunning harbour views, and menus can be tailored to your individual needs.
Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club
With a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, the Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club (CCYC) prides itself on welcoming all local and visiting sailors. Established in 1952 by the late Tiny Mitchell, the club is based in the heart of Cowes – on Birmingham Road by land and opposite the red No.6 harbour buoy by sea.
It is the only yacht club in Cowes that can provide marina berths, and shoreside boat storage and facilities to its members. CCYC offers short-stay berthing for visitors and bar opening hours can be found on the website along with all points of contact. The club encourages new members of all ages and holds sailing, racing and social events throughout the year.
CCYC is proud to host and support Cowes Sailability Club, a registered charity that provides recreational boating and sailing opportunities for adults and children with physical disabilities, learning difficulties and debilitating medical conditions.
Royal Thames Yacht Club
Founded over 240 years ago, the Royal Thames Yacht Club (RTYC) is the oldest continuously operating yacht club in the world. The exclusive and relaxing London clubhouse offers a warm welcome and has a superb position at 60 Knightsbridge with views over Hyde Park. Members participate in a wide range of racing and cruising events in home waters and worldwide. Clubhouse facilities include members’ accommodation and a fine dining restaurant.
In Cowes, the Royal Thames operates primarily from Shepards Marina where the club's J/70 fleet is based. RTYC organises keelboat racing and cruising events, and has an active younger members’ racing division.
East Cowes Sailing Club
The small and friendly East Cowes Sailing Club’s (ECSC) main base is situated in Clarence Road behind the Victoria Tavern in East Cowes. This club caters for small cruising yachts and motor boats, many of the latter being used by members of the club who enjoy fishing.
During the sailing season ECSC runs Thursday evening racing from its start box on the Eastern Esplanade overlooking the Shrape. This racing is organised with small cruising and racing yachts and day boats in mind, and is open to non-members on application to the club.
ECSC’s non-licensed club house on Clarence Road overlooks the Medina, perfect for watching the world go by, and offers storage space for tenders and equipment.
Gurnard Sailing Club
You can expect a warm welcome at Gurnard Sailing Club (GSC), the Island’s premier dinghy club, which is also home to the popular IW Dinghy Championships. Based in Gurnard Bay, a mile or so west of Cowes, the exciting surrounding waters include tides and challenging conditions which all make for a first-class sailing experience.
GSC runs a full sailing and training calendar, including a very successful cadet programme, and offers coaching for both adults and youths. This friendly club caters for everyone, from beginners to competitive sailors, and provides a lively and varied social calendar throughout the year. The club also offers dinghy parking for its members.