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Small Ships Races








Cowes 2018 - The 2018 Cowes Small Ships Race will take place on Saturday 6th October 2018. This annual event is a popular end to the Sail Training season, with around 25 boats taking part each year. Each of the boats are crewed by young and disabled people, many of whom have never sailed before. While the race is highly competitive, prizes are also awarded for the best dressed crew and the Spirit of the Race.

On Saturday 6th October, you can see the fleet parading past the Royal Yacht Squadron on the Cowes Parade in the morning (times to be confirmed). Crews will wave and cheer. The race start time will be advertised here and the vessels will be on the Solent until around 1600.

Regular updates will be on

The Cowes Small Ships Race is organised by ASTO in partnership with the Royal London Yacht Club and aims to publicise the opportunities Sail Training brings. In addition it is a fun end to the season for the Skippers and Crews that work so hard to make Sail Training a positive experience for many young and disadvantaged people each year.

Cowes Small Ships Race 2017 James M Pilgrim Social Res 5468

This year's race was very windy with strong tides, making for a fast and exciting race. The fleet headed through the forts and towards Bembridge Ledge before returning to finish off Cowes. 22 vessels were entered although only 20 competed. Newcomers included Ocean Youth Trust South's new vessel Prolific, and the Sea Cadets' new yacht City of London. As in the last few years, Spirit of Scott Bader competed in a class of their own, with people with various disabilities on board. Full Race Results can be found here, pictures of the race here and pictures of the prize giving here.

ASTO would like to thank the Royal London Yacht Club and Royal Yacht Squadron for their support in organising this race, as well as Cowes Yacht Haven for the venue. Several Isle of Wight organisations provide funding for young people to take part. If you are involved with a youth organisation or school on the Island, and would like to take part next year, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Royal Dart Yacht Club.

Organised by ASTO with generous support from












The Dartmouth to Gosport Small Ships Race 2016 brought together Sail Training vessels and young people in friendly competition. 17 vessels took part in the practice race and 19 in the race to Gosport. Stories and pictures from the race can be found on the UK Sail Training facebook page. (You do not need to log in to Facebook to see the pictures). Anyone wanting high resolution pictures or prints please contact ASTO on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Practice race results

Dartmouth to Gosport race results


ASTO would like to thank all supporters of the race, without whom the event would not have been possible. In particular we would like to thank:

Members of the Royal Dart Yacht Club

Dart Harbour Navigation Authority

Hornet Services Sailing Club

Joint Services Adventurous Sail Training Centre

Sea Cadets Offshore

Portsmouth Harbour QHM

Gosport Borough Council

Gosport Marine Scene

Radio Haslar


If your port or yacht club would like to host a Small Ships Race, please contact ASTO on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



ASTO organised a short event in Torbay to celebrate the start of the transatlantic Tall Ships Regatta in April 2017. 7 vessels took part in this short round the cans race. Very many thanks to Tor Bay Harbour and the Royal Torbay Yacht Club for their support. 

Pictures from the event are available here or here . ( uksailtraining) 

Vessels taking part included Leader and Golden Vanity (Trinity Sailing), Moosk, Pegasus and Tectona (Island Trust) and Aspiration and Endeavour (South Devon College).


The ASTO Small Ships Races are a youth event open to any Sail Training vessels of which at least half the crew is under 25. Small Ships races are run under the rules of Tall Ships Races but with, as the name suggests, some smaller vessels involved (usually under 24 metres long, with up to 16 trainees on board).  The inaugural ASTO Small Ships Race from Weymouth to St. Malo in 2002 was deemed to be a tremendous success by all involved. Since then, host ports have included Ipswich, Delfzijl, Glasgow, Greenock, Belfast, Cowes, Torquay, St. Peter Port, London, Portland and most recently Dartmouth to Gosport. Although these events are termed races, and there is certainly hot competition on the water, the main aim is to bring a range of Sail Training vessels together for their crews to compete, socialise and rise to the challenge of sailing these exciting ships.

ASTO now organises two types of race event: an annual 'round-the-cans' race, and about every 2 years a longer 'passage race' with at least two host ports and a longer stretch of offshore racing. 
The 'round-the-cans' Small Ships Race happens on the first weekend in October every year out of Cowes. This short event is extremely popular in the Sail Training world, with up to 30 boats and 350+ people taking part.

Visit the links to the left for information about these events, how to take part and read archive race reports.

Are you Ready....