Cowes Week: Prince Philip's love affair with sailing

  • Watch the video report by ITV Meridian's Sally Simmonds


ITV Meridian has been looking back at the Duke of Edinburgh's connections to the South, following his death.

One of Prince Philip's sporting passions was sailing and his love affair with Cowes Week dates back to the 1950s.

The Duke attended the sailing regatta on the Isle of Wight for the best part of 70 years.

Duke of Edinburgh sailing at Cowes Week in October 1960

In October 1960, Prince Philip chose to start his racing career in the smallest class of yacht that can be raced at Cowes week.

Always up for a challenge, he decided to take the helm of a small dingy, the Flying Fifteen, rather than a super yacht, despite having his choice of any boat.

The Duke sailed with Isle of Wight boat builder and local character Uffa Fox.

The famous yachtsman became The Duke of Edinburgh's crew and friend.

Prince Philip sailing with Uffa Fox at Cowes Week

John Terry also crewed for a very competitive Duke of Edinburgh in the 1960s.

He says Prince Philip really enjoyed sailing with Uffa in a Flying Fifteen because you can feel the waves and are much closer to the water in a small dingy.

The boat was kept at the Commodores House in Cowes, where Uffa used to live.

John Terry, who now lives at the house, says legendary parties were held there.

He said: "The boat was here on the quay. There was a crane and he was hoisted in and out. Prince Philip described the dinner parties as very jolly and they were very informal."

  • John Terry, Former crew:

It was the Royal's presence at the event, which helped to put Cowes Week high on the social calendar.

Crowds used to gather at the quayside at Cowes to watch the regatta, knowing that the Duke of Edinburgh was onboard.

When his close companion Uffa Fox died in 1972, Prince Philip moved onto sailing bigger boats.

Crew who raced with and against The Duke say he loved being in the thick of the action.

Prince Philip and Ben Ainslie at a cocktail party at the Royal Yacht Squadron in 2017

Sir Ben Ainslie remembers the times he met Prince Philip fondly.

He says the Duke of Edinburgh loved the technical aspect of sailing, which was never more evident than in the Americas cup.

Sir Ben says: "I remember meeting him on the back of the Americas Cup in San Francisco. He told me about many many years ago in the 1960's, he and a very famous British racer called Uffa Fox, developed the concept of wings in catamarans.

He was very much ahead of his game, fascinated by the technology that went into the sport and he really really loved sailing."

  • Sir Ben Ainslie, America's Cup Skipper:


He's always been incredibly thoughtful and gracious and supportive about the Americas Cup.

Sir Ben Ainslie, America's Cup Skipper

Sir Ben Ainslie met the Duke of Edinburgh as recently as 2017, at a cocktail party at the Royal Yacht Squadron.

There they discussed the America's Cup and it was clear that Prince Philip was right behind Sir Ben's bid to bring the Cup home to Cowes.