Credit Crunch Changes Cowes Clientelle

According to an article by the BBC, the last Cowes Week to be sponsored by Insurance company Skandia was not too badly affected by the ‘credit crunch’.

Despite a year of financial turmoil, the streams of yachts heading out onto the Solent are still flying the flags of some of the world’s biggest banks.

Back on land the main shopping street is packed with groups of corporate hospitality guests making their way round the designer boutiques.

And yet, though the well-heeled crowd may not yet be counting the pennies, there are some early signs that the slowdown is beginning to effect the very genteel world of Cowes Week.

But the boss of On Deck, Mike Williams, has seen a change in the make-up of his clientele this year.

“We’re probably 20% down on the corporate hospitality side of things, but that’s been made up by sailing enthusiasts booking the boats as individuals,” he says.

One of the other parts of Mike’s business is the individual regattas the company organises for different sectors of business, ranging from the Banking and Finance Regatta in September to a race for the furniture industry.

“You would expect that these regattas would be hit hard, but because there are so many sailors within the companies, there are still plenty of entries for this year,” says Mr Williams.

Among the punters watching the live bands is a group of hedge fund managers who’ve chartered a yacht for the day.

“There’s still a lot of money around here,” says the skipper of the boat.

“The higher end does not seem to be feeling the pinch. In fact they seem pretty immune from the credit crunch.”

And while the Pimm’s and champagne continues to flow, it would seem that the waves of the credit crunch are not quite ready to engulf the Cowes regatta quite yet.