Cowes Week Antics

2015-01-12T22:54:12+00:00

Quite often its the little things that happen during Cowes Week that make the event so much fun.  With so many people and boats attending one of the world’s largest regattas there are bound to be things happening but the art is being at the right place at the right time.  Of course with such a large regatta its not so much of an art form as pure chance, but when you capture an interesting shot it flatters the ego to dwell on the fact that it was all down to experience…

On the Friday of Cowes Week all races were postponed due to a lack of wind.  Many yachts had headed out towards the intended race area in anticipation of the wind filling in and the Solent quickly became a floating village filled with static yachts.  Boredom quickly set in and the crews started sunbathing or mucking about by diving from their yachts.  On board the press boat the photographers were equally restless and we spent some time meandering through this new village, looking for shots.

Amongst the fleet of static vessels any movement tends to stand out and my thanks go to fellow photographer Paul Smith for spotting a yacht, Aspiration, motoring fairly swiftly through the static fleet.  But what really caught the eye was not so much its speed but that it was towing two young ‘wakeboarders’.  Fortunately, they continued for long enough to allow us get in position to take the shot from various angles.

I caught up with the crew later that day at Cowes Yacht Haven where they explained how they did it.  The main halyard was lowered and this provided the main towing line.  Two jib sheets were tied to the halyard with a loop at each end for the wakeboarders to hang onto.  It was then a mere matter of lifting two square floorboards out of the yacht and throwing them into the water for the wakeboarders to stand on.  With no foot straps on the boards it would have been incredilby difficult to stay on them whilst being towed, but what gave these lads the advantage was that the towing line was coming from the top of the mast, in effect lifting them out of the water.

The whole thing was ingenious and a surprise that in all these years I’d never seen it done before.  No doubt this will start a new craze and at next year’s Cowes Week we’ll see impromptu wakeboarding events springing up.  On shore, several yachtsmen reminded me of a similar craze some years ago of ‘spinnaker dipping’, where a member of the crew is dangled over the water whilst hanging onto one corner of a set spinnaker.

And just when you thought you’d seen it all…

Cowes Week Antics 2015-01-12T22:54:12+00:00