The Cowes Week sailing regatta – the largest event of its kind and one of the longest running – is underway this week. The first one took place back in 1826 when the Royal Yacht Squadron organised three days of racing beginning on 10 August. Now it runs over eight days, with around 1000 boats and 8500 competitors taking part, to a backdrop of onshore festivities culminating in a firework display that has been tradition for over 150 years.


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Britannia racing at Cowes, William Lionel Wyllie, Royal Museums Greenwich

Our digitisation expeditions have revealed several images that relate to Cowes Week. In the collection of Mount Stewart (National Trust) are three views of the Royal Yacht Squadron clubhouse at Cowes Castle – the building at the very heart of the event – by Charles Gregory. We’ve also scanned a beautiful painting in a private collection of the Egeria schooner, which won six Queen’s Cups at Cowes Week between 1865 and 1881.


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Coastal Scene (Cowes), Charles Gregory, Mount Stewart / National Trust

If you browse our website for images of Cowes harbour, you’ll find dozens of images documenting how it looked before and after it became a hub for yachting and sailing races – including a lot of images by Thomas Rowlandson, who made two tours of the Isle of Wight in the 1790s with his friends. We've selected a few of our favourites here.