Shipwreck Isle - swashbuckling pirates at Appley Tower, Ryde, Isle of Wight


Visit Isle of Wight (VIOW) has hailed this weekend’s Shipwreck Isle a sail away success as thousands of people flocked to Ryde seafront to celebrate the pirate-themed event.

Shipwreck Isle – part of the DMO’s annual Festival of the Sea held to promote the Island’s seafaring history and attract early summer visitors – took place at Appley beach in Ryde on Sunday 28th June.

Famed for its golden sands, Gothic-style tower and long promenade, Appley was invaded by pirates who came ashore and entertained the crowds with cannon demonstrations, sword fighting and set up the Pirates of the Caribbean village.   One of Europe’s top Jack Sparrow lookalikes, Simon Newton, who doubled for Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, was at the festival for photographs and stunt-action sword fights.

Younger visitors were invited to dress up in their swashbuckling outfits for pirate storytelling, tug-of-war and treasure hunts.

Funded and co-ordinated by the DMO, Visit Isle of Wight believes the event has the potential to attract huge numbers of visitors from all over the world – especially those who like dressing up in flamboyant pirate costumes and enjoy great entertainment!

David Thornton, CEO, and Visit Isle of Wight, said: “I am delighted that VIOW was able to secure Shipwreck Isle for the Island and we are excited about the obvious potential that the crowds yesterday indicated, and hope to be in a position to confirm next year’s dates by the end of July.

“VIOW and our partners Wightlink, have done an excellent job in making sure this event has been marketed and promoted to off-island visitors in Portsmouth and Southsea.  Wightlink also contributed hugely in the pre-event planning by making sure that all the ‘Pirates’ were able to travel over with their various gear”.

Mark Persad, Head of Marketing at Wightlink, said: “It’s great that so many people came to support the event and enjoy a free day of fantastic swashbuckling fun. This was a brilliant start and we very much hope the pirates will return for a second year. Once again, it’s proven that the Isle of Wight is the place to be for great days out”.

The event was organised by Roger Crouch, who ran the Hastings Pirate Festival for five years, which became a huge draw for local people and visitors alike.  Roger said: “We created a true family day, which I am sure will grow to be an annual event for the Isle of Wight.

“My thanks to all that took part, the majority of which gave their time freely to participate, such as the Pirates of the Caribbeanand the Living History groups. Huge thanks also to Visit Isle of Wight, Wightlink and John Hawkins and his team of Beach Events & Solutions, who co-promoted and helped event manage the day.

John Hawkins said: “We are proud and delighted to work with so many amazing people to help launch what we believe will become a stand-out event in the Isle of Wight.

“Appley beach is one of the most beautiful beaches we have ever encountered and the whole town and local businesses have been hugely supportive, which has made this event a pleasure to work on.  With the wind in our sails, I have no doubt that Shipwreck Isle has many more treasures to uncover over the coming years”.

Katie Jones, Events Manager for Visit Isle of Wight, added: “Shipwreck Isle was a great success and we are looking forwards to working closely with John and Roger in the future and planning an even more fun-filled event next year.

“Thank you to everyone who attended and made the extra effort with their spectacular costumes; you all looked great”.

With around 100 activities from musical events, food shows, cookery displays and food-tasting, opportunities to charter boats, open days, tours and talks, all with a seaside theme, there are still plenty of opportunities for salty seadogs and landlubbers to drop anchor and enjoy the event.

From July 2nd to 5th, Hovertravel will be celebrating its 50th anniversary with a 1980s themed weekend. Travellers will be greeted with music, fancy dress and giveaways at the terminals

The finale on July 4th and 5th will be the ‘All at Sea’ beach festival at Hope Beach in Shanklin, with children’s entertainment, the Cardboard Box Boat Race and the Isle of Wight Birdman Rally – where competitors attempt to glide gracefully into the sea in homemade contraption

You can pick up a copy of the Festival of the Sea guide, including times and locations of all the events at

For further information, please contact: Sue Emmerson, Press Officer, and Tel: 01983 201048, 07766 705672, E-mail:


Notes to editors

The Festival of The Sea, which was created by the Island’s Destination Marketing Organisation, Visit Isle of Wight, will involve 100 events on land and at sea. The Festival is now in its third year and will take place from June 22nd to July 5th.  Visit Isle of Wight is supporting the Festival of the Sea 2015 with a £20,000 advertising campaign in newspapers and on radio stations across the South Coast and in London.

The headline event is the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race, on June 27th, which is organised by the Island Sailing Club and typically attracts 1700 yachts and 16,000 sailors. Competitors from around the world will attempt to circumnavigate the Island’s 50 nautical mile course, with crowds enjoying a coastline view.

Working in partnership with Visit England, Visit Isle of Wight Ltd (VIOW) is responsible for developing tourism and attracting more visitors to the Isle of Wight.   As well as the consumer website ( the DMO also operates a small industry website containing recent research and tourism news along with links to Visit England reports and opportunities.