Cowes Week will be without fireworks or the Red Arrows, and the usual main stage entertainment is unlikely this summer, but hopes still remain for an exciting return for the historic sailing regatta.

Organisers want to hear from Islanders keen to help to create a community event - supporting the town's Covid-hit High Street and providing much-missed opportunities to sail, for those who love to get out on the water.

Like most Island events in 2020, Cowes Week was shelved due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The call was made in June, when the team said it would not be possible to bring thousands of people to the Isle of Wight and ensure their safety.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Crowds at he Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes

In 2021 though, as the NHS continues to administer vaccines and a government advisor has spoken of being "back to something pretty close to what we have seen before the pandemic" by the summer, there is optimism.

Cowes Week is one of the longest-running events of its kind in the world and it has been making a splash in the town since the 1820s.

There are scores of daily races, up to 1,000 boats and thousands of competitors, ranging from amateur locals to keen celebrities, and from Olympic and world-class professionals to visiting royalty.

Given its prestigious history, was it a difficult decision to postpone last year?

Actually, not really, said Cowes Week director Laurence Mead.

"In the end, it was intellectually a very easy decision to make. Everybody completely understood.

"Emotionally it was difficult. Nobody wanted to do it"

For 2021, it has now been confirmed that the famous Friday night fireworks will not return.

The usual stages, which pop up on Cowes Parade and in the Yacht Haven, packed with musical acts, will probably not be back either.

The biggest concern is that they will bring too many people together all at once.

The Red Arrows will not flypast either.

So this year's Cowes Week - from July 31 to August 6 - will not be the full shabang.

Isle of Wight County Press:

But, as long as the rules allow, there are plans to get sailors out on the water and spending money in the town's struggling shops, pubs and eateries.

Laurence said: "We've got to be Covid-sensitive and use our common sense.

"What we would like to have is a thriving town event.

"Things must be better than August 2020

"What we do is Covid dependent, but we're optimistic."

The organisation behind Cowes Week has been hit financially by Covid-19.

Now, the hope is that working with businesses could bring benefits to all.

The team is talking to retailers, pubs and restaurants, through the Cowes Business Association.

"Cowes Week is the most important trading week of the year for everybody in Cowes.

"It's very important that we have a strong relationship [with businesses]," said Laurence, who is hoping for "a thriving town scene with an absolutely awesome boat race taking place on the Solent.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Cowes High Street

He said: "You can't have a great Cowes Week unless the town is enjoying it, and is part of it.

"That's tourists, residents, sailors. It's the restaurants and bars and pubs.

"That's what the tradition of Cowes is.

"I think we'll have a bumper entry for 2021"

Outdoors and socially distanced by nature, delivering sailing in a Covid-safe way is easier than with other sports.

Plans are being drawn up to get people on and off boats safely.

In a nod to the carnival-atmosphere tradition, Laurence wants to hear from the Island's street entertainers and those who can make the town exciting for Islanders and sailors, and for tourists.

With UK-based holidays set to be huge this year, it is a chance to draw in the mainland visitors - and their holiday spend.

  • Entries open to sailors on February 21, with around 180 already rolled over from 2020.

Laurence said: "We want to see people sitting on the green in the sunshine, watching the boats go by, eating ice creams and having a lovely time."

And who can disagree with that?

  • Want to get involved?
  • Contact Laurence directly - email