Cowes Week Fireworks. Arguably one of the best displays on the South Coast.
Cowes Week is one of the longest-running regular regattas in the world. With 40 daily sailing races, up to 1,000 boats, and 8,000 competitors ranging from Olympic and world-class professionals to weekend sailors, it is the largest sailing regatta of its kind in the world. Having started in 1826, the event is held in August each year on the Solent made tricky by strong double tides, westerly winds and oodles of commercial ferries, cruise ships, oil tankers and container traffic.
Trying to cross the Solent during this week is only for the brave or the certifiably stupid.
Let me explain. You are motoring quite happily on a heading for Yarmouth. On the horizon is nothing. Suddenly out of left field you find yourselves amongst 40 yachts going hell for leather in the opposite direction. Observing the rule that you give way to sail, you give them a wide berth. Only to find another group of manic yotties coming at you from the other side.
Red mist rises in your eyes, you open the throttles and ignoring every COL REG in the rule book, you plot a direct line out of there. Japanese Kamikaze pilots could have learnt from you
However the Friday night of the week is payback time. FIREWORKS!
If of course,
- it’s not raining
- there is not an offshore wind to blow the cordite smoke into your face
- it’s not blowing a hooley and therefore the whole event is cancelled due to safety.
- the cloud base is not too low to allow the display of the Red Arrows
Oh the joys of an English summer.
The best viewing points are either outside Cowes or in Osbourne Bay where you will be at anchor with a zillion other vessels.
After the display there is rush for your home port. The authorities realise the problem of crowds and set a 15 knot speed limit. The harbour pilots marshal the shipping lane so you don’t run into a container ship in the dark.
But the biggest hazard are boats without lights! Especially jet skis. I hate jet skis, the menace of the waters are jet skis. No lights, low in the water and they only have 2 speeds, stop and “Bat out of Hell” They buzz around like angry bees with no respect for the speed limit. They appear out of the gloom from nowhere and just as you swing hard on the helm to avoid them, they buzz off into the darkness to scare the living daylights out of someone else.How no one is injured is beyond me.
If you thought the madness of the race week was something, try the sail back after the fireworks. Its carnage.