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Small Ships Races








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It’s official! Our upcoming annual Small Ships Race is set to go ahead (albeit in a slightly limited capacity) on October 3rd, and we’re so excited to get back out on the water and have some fun.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we can't host our usual shore-based event, but we are able to hold the offshore race, with every precaution being taken to ensure that we fully comply with the latest RYA and government guidelines.

We are also thrilled to announce that this year in addition to our offshore race, we will be holding a brand new VIRTUAL Small Ships Race in partnership with Sailonline.

This means that for those who aren’t able to be out on the water with us, you can still get involved and win some prizes! The Sailonline Race will open for practice on Tuesday 29th September 2020, and the race itself will start on Saturday at the same time as the real race. Further details on  To help us see which real Sail Trainers are taking part, we suggest that you choose a username that identifies your vessel, or prefix with the name of your organisation (for example, prefix 'RSP' for the Rona Sailing Project, or 'OYT' for the Ocean Youth Trust.)

Instead of our usual evening awards ceremony, we will also be hosting a live-streamed ‘Virtual Prize-Giving' over on our Facebook page after the Small Ships Race and our Virtual SSR has finished.


A Small Ships Race to commemorate 400 years since the Mayflower sailed to the New World. The race will be from Southampton to Dartmouth, which are both ports that the original Mayflower stopped at. Due to Covid-19, this race has been postponed from 2020 so should really be called the Mayflower 401. 

Dates: 15th to 20th August 2021

Ports: Starts Southampton and finishes Dartmouth

Entry: Opens soon.

The Chatham to Gosport Small Ships Race 2018 saw 5 Sail Training vessels in friendly competition. 

The fleet arrived in Chatham Sunday 19 August in blustery conditions. The crew of Morning Star organised crew games and a barbecue. A Skipper's briefing was held on board Morning Star to discuss the racing. Many thanks to Richard Stone from the Medway Yacht Club for his local advice and offer to run a practice race.

Due to lack of wind on Monday, 20th August, the practice race was cancelled. Instead, the fleet motored to Ramsgate undertaking the Cheesecake Challenge on the way! Many thanks to Ramsgate Marina for accomodating the fleet at such short notice.

On Tuesday 21st August the race to Gosport started off Ramsgate, in light headwinds and thick fog. This cleared by the afternoon and the crews found themselves tacking along the coast making good speed. The wind eased off on Wednesday morning and remained from the west, meaning crews needed to tack frequently to make any progress. 

The time limit for the race was shortened to ensure all crews would get to Gosport in time. Those vessels that had not finished the race by midnight on Wednesday were therefore able to report their position and a theoretical finish time was calculated. Due to the time correction factor issued by Sail Training International, all boats are in with a chance of winning.

Pictures of the prize giving are on


Overall Winner: Scaramouche

Winner of the Richard Langhorn Trophy (voted for by all crews as the vessel that best represents the Spirit of the Race): Leila

Name Class Corrected Time
Scaramouche D 19h 39m 47s
Leila B 23h 50m 52s
Ocean Scout C 1d 00h 21m 02s
Offshore Scout C 1d 00h 51m 03s
Morning Star B 1d 01h 33m 29s



The Cowes Small Ships Race usually takes place on the first Saturday every October. Unfortunately due to Covid-19 restrictions, it will not take place in its usual form 2020. For more information please contact the ASTO office.

The Cowes Small Ships Race will be back in 2021, on Saturday 2nd October 2021.

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.

The 2018 event was spectacular as always - 23 vessels entered, with 21 completing the course. A summary of the racing is on the news page ('Home port'), with full results available here.

Photos of the racing are here, the prize giving here and a video here.

The Cowes Small Ships Race is organised by ASTO in partnership with the Royal London Yacht Club and supported by Isle of Wight based organisations including the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes Yacht Haven, Herapath Shenton Trust, RLYC Youth Trust, Cowes Rotary, Delphie Lakeman Trust and others. If you would like to support the event, or work with young people on the Isle of Wight who would like to take part, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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.