New Clubs Not Welcome in Cowes? 3

While BMW ORACLE are looking to promote the America’s Cup to Generation Y and reinvent the “World’s Oldest Sporting Trophy” as an extreme sport, Cowes Week – “The World’s Oldest Regatta” are not quite ready to accept young people who don’t have a sailing agenda. The Telegraph reports that the Cowes sailing establishment are not happy about two London nightclubs “setting up outposts” at the 180 year old Isle of Wight Regatta.

[cleeng_content id=”796460206″ description=”99 cents or 10,000 hours. The path to being an expert can be easy or hard. ” price=”0.99″]It’s a typical generation gap piece that sets up the stereotypes against each other, but it highlights the difficulty that sailing has positioning itself. While the PR people pitch the event as part of the ‘Summer Season’ and are quite happy to use celebrities like Zara Phillips to add glamour to the regatta, it seems that ‘well-heeled, hard drinking’ youth are not welcome, despite bringing a touch of F1 to sleepy Cowes.

The owners of Mahiki, will moor a £6 million Sunseeker yacht at the Yacht Haven, Cowes’ biggest marina. A cocktail bar and club will be set up in a marquee on the harbourside with room for up to 400 people, who will party until after midnight. According to the Telegraph, many guests will arrive by helicopter, landing at a temporary helipad in a nearby school, and be driven by chauffeurs to the bars a few minutes away. Mahiki will face competition from Raffles, a private-members club in the King’s Road, which will set up a marquee at Cowes’s second biggest marina, the Peppermint Shepards Wharf, and stay open until 2am.

While OC Events have announced a week long series of DJ sets at their Extreme Bar, they aren’t included in this piece that set up the ‘establishment’ as old fuddy duddy folk who don’t like loud noise. Anonymous sources that really do sound made up are quoted as saying:

“The social side is a very important part of Cowes week. But I’m not sure we want an invasion of the sort of people who are raucous and stagger out of nightclubs in the small hours. We have traditions at Cowes and they must be respected. Last year, we had John Prescott here. That was bad enough and now we’ve got to put up with this lot.”

If only they sailed it might be alright….

Jackie Head, the chief executive of the Royal Corinthians Yacht Club, said:

“We want to attract younger people. Most of our more serious sailors are in their 50s and 60s. But today’s teenagers seem happier to live in the cyberworld on their computers or go out partying than to get their hands wet and learn to sail.”

Leaving aside the massive generalisation about teenagers as being obsessed with screens that ignores the fact that the most popular sites in ‘cyberworld’ like Facebook are driven by real world interactions resulting in photo sharing and that sports are a huge driver of those interactions, this kind of statement just alienates new sailors. As if people go to the polo to ride horses or visit Henley to row.

Luckily, Cowes Week organisers are a bit more forward thinking. The mooring fees of a £6 million Sunseeker will be pretty substantial and there should be flow on benefits. Stuart Quarrie, the chief executive of Cowes Week Ltd, the organisers, said that Mahiki and Raffles were “positive additions” to the regatta.

“They are upmarket places and we don’t have any other cocktail bars,” he said. “They will bring something slightly different to Cowes.”

We’ll be at Cowes next week. Looking forward to it.

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