The annual highlight of the British yacht racing season, the Royal Yacht Squadron's week long series of cruises and races in the Solent originate from Cowes, in the mouth of the Medina, and Ryde along the Isle of Wight's northeasterly coast. The local Cowes Castle has housed the Squadron since 1854, which began formally in 1815 as a club which required ownership of a 10-ton yacht or larger to join, making for an exclusive membership roll from the beginning. The elite of society and government have been members through the club's nearly two centuries of existence, and the highlight every year are races and full regatta of the first week of August. The 1851 Regatta was held over the famous 53-mile course won by the Schooner AMERICA.
It is a bright, breezy day for yacht racing, and the Cowes Week wraps with the Squadron's final challenge and follows with a spectacular fireworks show. The competitors are herein flying their personal burgees; so this is a match of individuals for prizes, and undoubtably wagers. The Squadron members have put away their official Royal Navy White Ensigns - the only non-Royal Navy group allowed to fly it -and many are on hand to watch the match race between two of the grand schooners of their age. Seven yachts raced in the first 1826 Regatta, and thirty-seven pairs raced in 1864, with Schooner Yachts COMET and MAD CAP among the honored winners.
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