The first race was for a Gold Cup of the Value of £100, held in 1826 for just seven yachts under the flag of the Royal Yacht Club. The next year King George IV indicated his approval of the event by presenting a cup (the King’s Cup, until 1939) to mark the occasion, and the event became known as Cowes Regatta. It was run as a three-day, then a four-day event and quickly became part of the social calendar. By 1946, The King’s Cup was replaced by the Britannia Cup, presented by King George VI in 1950. By 1953 nine days of racing were provided, but with each club running its own event with its own sailing instructions, racing marks and even start and finish lines.
With seven clubs organising their own races, HRH Prince Philip suggested the clubs join each other and here was born Cowes Combines Clubs and they subsequently began to run and organise the regatta. The regatta has evolved enormously since 1826, now between 800 and 1,000 boats in up to forty different handicap, one-design and multihull classes race every day for eight days.
The event offers a great mix of competitive sailing and social activities. The 8,500 competitors range from Olympic and world class professionals to weekend sailors. In excess of 100,000 spectators come to watch the sailing, enjoy the parties and live entertainment, and to experience the unique atmosphere. It is genuinely a one-of-a-kind event.