It’s August. The UK heatwave may be a distant memory but all our hard-working Italian manufacturers are enjoying a well-earned holiday. In fact, the whole of Italy is on shut down for the month of August. So, instead of telling you about the world of luxury furniture, it gives us a chance to focus on fun, sun and holidays.
Last year, along with my four sons, I decided to take up sailing after hiring a 50 foot catamaran in the Caribbean whilst entertaining some of our customers. After a few initial doubts – and some bone-chillingly cold training sessions on the Solent – one son now has his Day Skipper and Power Boat Level 2 certificates. This has spurred us all on to work towards even bigger and better things. Our next adventure is a yachting holiday around the spectacular coastline of Croatia. Unfortunately, this does mean that we will miss out on some of the world’s finest regattas this August but that doesn’t mean I can’t share them with you.
If you are in the UK, you could (if you wanted to) simply shimmy along the south coast for the next few weeks, taking in three of our best home-grown summer events.
Cowes Week : 10 – 17 August
Probably the highlight of the summer season, Cowes Week has been a British institution since 1826. It attracts royalty, celebs and some of the world’s very best professional sailors. Youth Day on Wednesday also aims to bring along the next generation of sailors, while Sunday sees Family Day, with a whole host of family-friendly events on land and water, keeping the whole family involved. A free Children’s Sailing Experience, available daily throughout the week, gives children aged 8 – 18 the chance to sail the same water as the pros, picking up tips from two Olympic medallists. You’ll also find treasure hunts, live music, sundowners, afternoon teas, gin festivals, cocktail parties and the Sugar Store nightclub – the place to be seen after dark.
Tuesday 13th is Ladies Day, sponsored by Slingsby Gin, although they are by no means the only gin in town! You won’t find a flotilla of fancy hats on Ladies Day at Cowes. No, they opt for nautical stripes instead, whether you are onshore or battling the waves. So, sort out your best navy and white stripes and see if you can bag an on-the-spot prize. The day celebrates the contribution and achievements of women in sailing. The Royal Southern Ariel Trophy is awarded to the female helm with the best overall result on the day, followed by an evening reception for female sailors and celebrities, where the Ladies Day Trophy is awarded. Last year’s winner was Tracy Edwards, a woman outstanding in the world of sailing and now writing as well, sharing her experiences and encouraging a new generation of women’s sailing. Whether you are a seasoned sailor, a beginner, young or old, if you love sailing, Cowes is the place to be.
Fowey Royal Regatta : 18 – 24 August
The jewel of Cornwall’s regattas, Fowey Royal Regatta has a long and proud history, having attracted some high-profile visitors including Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II. One of Britain’s premier sailing events, this is an exciting week of racing for cruisers, working boats and local fleets of Troys (a class of sailing boat built exclusively in Fowey). Not all activities take place on the water, however, and there is plenty to keep landlubbers entertained. As well as live music, fireworks and crab catching competitions, there is also the Giant Pasty Ceremony (quirkily and uniquely Cornish), a Pasty Eating Competition and the Red Devils Parachute Display Team. Another Cornish Tradition, the Flora Dance, is being filmed for TV this year so dress in white and join the dance. This is a week of traditional family fun with some beautiful boats, many of which you will never see anywhere else.
Dartmouth Royal Regatta : 24 – 31 August
Started in 1834, this is Dartmouth Royal Regatta’s 175th anniversary and they are pulling out all the stops with a full week of celebrations. With over 50 yachting events and an anticipated 250 boats, you’ll find all types of craft, from older classics to high end racing machines. As well as the yachts, there is also a full programme of rowing, dinghy racing and stand up paddleboarding. For the fun-lovers, there is the Family Fun Day, sponsored by Dartmouth Gin. Go along and enjoy a raft race, a river procession, a steam boat rally and the eagerly-awaited International Trolley Grand Prix (think of It’s a Knockout with even more water and very leaky buckets). For the children, there is an ice cream eating competition and a crab fishing competition.
Not all events at Dartmouth involve getting wet. There is also a 5 mile road race, a swimming gala (ok, so you’ll get wet at that one), the Regatta Ball, the Sundowner open air festival, dog shows, a shopping village and street market. The celebrations conclude with a fantastic firework display and the Regatta Proms, probably the only event where the dress code is dinner jacket and wellies. All in all, a fun-packed week with a carnival atmosphere plus some serious racing.
Nantucket Race Week : 10 – 18 August
If you’re on the other side of the pond and can’t make it to Cowes, there’s always Nantucket Race Week from 10 – 18 August. This Cape Cod classic sees 9 fun-filled days of racing, awards and partying. It attracts sailors at all levels, from young dinghy sailors to families to top grand prix racers. It includes a Youth Regatta, Women’s Regatta and even a Kiteboard Regatta, followed by a family cookout. It culminates with the Opera House Cup, a race for amateurs only, in some of the finest all-wooden, single-hulled classic boats in the world.
Hamilton Island Race Week : 17 – 24 August
If none of those are quite globe-trotting enough for you, on my bucket list is Hamilton Island Race Week, 17 – 24 August. Attracting yachties from around the world, this keelboat regatta is a firm fixture on the international sailing calendar. Set against the stunning backdrop of Australia’s Whitsunday Islands, everything about this regatta screams luxury. Mind you, alongside the breakfasts and brunches, the luxury lunches and champagne dinners, they also offer a free skin check – invaluable for anyone who spends a lot of time out in the wind and weather.
On the fun side, the Prix d’Elegance has prizes in 2 categories: Best Presented Yacht & Crew, and Best Fun-Themed Yacht & Crew. So, not only does your yacht need to be ship shape, but your crew also has to be immaculate in their Sunday best. For all sailors, there is a free sausage sizzle at the end of each race or, if you prefer to keep your feet on dry land, it would be very easy to graze your days away between races with fabulous feasts and classic cocktails. Accommodation on Hamilton Island is all high end with world-class views across the ocean – although it gets booked up very quickly during race week so you may have to think about next year rather than a last-minute jaunt this year.
Well, I’m off to pack for Croatia and a week of honing my own sailing skills. You never know, one day you might see me racing at Cowes or even Hamilton Island.