I’ve recently been working on a new guide for this site called ’10 things you can only visit on the Isle of Wight’ as an attempt to point out some of the record breaking attractions and days out on the Island.
I like to imagine Kris Akabusi will present a special edition of Record Breakers from the top of an open top Southern Vectis double decker, shouting ‘Awooga’ as he cruises past Ryde Pier or Blackgang Chine.
I came upon a watery stumbling block when I got to Cowes Week, since there seems to be some dispute as to exactly how big it is.
The official website describes it as 'the largest sailing regatta of its kind in the world' and you'll find this phrase repeated on lots of other websites. Perhaps I am missing something, but none of them seem to explain exactly what the different kinds of sailing regatta are. Presumably they all have yachts don't they?
Wikipedia joins the party by listing Cowes Week as the world's fifth oldest sailing regatta and also calling it 'one of the largest....yachting regattas in the world'
CoastalBoating puts Cowes Week at the top of its list of world 'sailing yacht racing' and says it is 'certainly the largest racing event in sailing'.
Meanwhile, the official Isle of Wight website describes Cowes Week as the 'world’s best-known sailing regatta', though it doesn't compare it in size to others.
Back in 2012, Guinness World Records declared that the 'largest sailing regatta of a single class' was held off off Brazil with 1055 yachts. So, there have certainly been bigger one off events, but that's not really a fair comparison with an annual party spread over a week.
A fairer comparison would be to West Highland Yachting Week which attracts about 200 yachts or Falmouth Week which involves 300 yachts whereas, Cowes Week has ‘around 1000’ boats in various classes.
I've done a fair amount of googling and haven't yet found an annual regatta anywhere in the world which has as many boats as Cowes Week - so I think that's what the 'world's biggest' claim is based on.
Of course you could measure the size of a sailing regatta by more than just the number of yachts - you could measure it by the number of visitors, the number of races and so on, but let's not complicate things.
Anyway, whilst I continue to scratch my head and tap away on Google, if anyone fancies adding to the debate, please send a postcard to the usual address.
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog