Made on Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight (or just Island) is steeped in sailing history and has seen sails on and around it for centuries.

Every year we are blessed with a number of important sailing events.   Such as the Round the Island Race, which is one of the largest (if not the largest) sailing race in the world.

Around 1800 boats battle for position on the start line and then head off around the Island.   It is quite a spectacle and you can guarantee we pick up a few sails that didn’t make around.  This year we had a steady supply of blown out spinnakers.

Around the Island you will sail past the infamous Needles, where the wreck of Varvassi still lies (it was carrying tangerines and Algerian wine).   St Catherine’s Lighthouse and the Napoleonic forts of the Solent also await all who sail.   In days of old, all boats would tip their mast when going past St Boniface down, Ventnor, respect to the Island!

Cowes Week follows and the whole of the Island is immersed in sails and sailors.  Dating back to 1826 this is the longest running sailing regatta in the world and  is a well established week in the sailing and social diary.   With forty daily races, 1000 odd boats there is never a dull moment.

Every two years after Cowes Week sees the start of the Fastnet race.   A race from Cowes to Plymouth via the Fastnet rock off South Ireland.  One of two of the biggest offshore sailing races in the world.  The other being the Sydney to Hobart sailing race.

On the subject of sails, the historic dockyard (just over the water in Portsmouth) is home to what is left of the HMS Victory topsail from the battle of Trafalgar.   The second biggest sail on the Victory it fills a warehouse and some more and is worth seeing.

You cannot mention sailmaking on the Island without mentioning Ratsey and Lapthorn who since 1796 have made sails on the island.   A number of other sailmakers live and work on the island and all wightsails products are hand made on the isle of wight and in some way we are the new breed of sailmakers.  I wonder what Nelson would have said?