Although the earliest days of WHYW saw the tradition of male- dominated racing, the later inclusion of white sail classes allowed women and the family to come along and be part of the week. Today WHYW is noted as one of the UK’s leading family-friendly events with several boats boasting three family generations that have taken part.
This popular mix of the serious and the not so serious continues the tradition begun at the very first regatta in 1882 when, in addition to yacht racing, the event included rowing races and ended with a ‘duck hunt’ – a sort of pursuit race.
In the evening, yacht owners and their guests attended a huge Highland ball that mirrors the prize-giving dances of today. This is perhaps not quite the dazzling event of those early years, with the guests in their full finery, but it is not so easy to carry full Highland dress aboard today’s somewhat smaller yachts.
In days of yesteryear, it would only have been the owners attending the ball – the paid crews would have entertained themselves at the local public house. The pub tradition still continues – now for owners and crew alike – with the added entertainment of a wide-ranging social programme to accompany the ‘craic’ and camaraderie that is so much part of WHYW. The regatta celebrated a golden and diamond jubilee with more than 200 yachts competing in these memorable events. Now, having been on the crest of a wave for 70 years, the JRC eagerly looks forward to celebrating the platinum jubilee.