Action from Cowes Week
Cowes Week 2008
The world famous annual yachting spectacular of Cowes Week has taken over the waters of the Solent for eight days of competitive sailing and glittering shoreside balls and parties.
The world's longest running regatta this year features over 970 yachts racing in 37 different classes.
Over 8,500 competitors take to their start lines in boats ranging from 68ft down to 20.99ft.
A big date in the social calendar, Cowes attracts 100,000 visitors over eight days of competitive sailing and the surrounding balls, parties and entertainment.
It's also a landmark year for the event as it marks the end of Skandia's 14 year sponsorship and the organisers are now looking for a new corporate backer.
The event traditionally concludes with a spectacular fireworks display on Friday evening which starts at 9.30pm, with a flypast from the Red Arrows at 7.30pm.
On the water, Alinghi emerged victorious the UK leg of the iShares Cup.
The iShares Cup gets underway
There was some fast and furious between the 11 crews racing Extreme 40 catamarans with a couple of capsizes and a broken rig along the way.
The Artemis Challenge features some of the biggest names on the IMOCA circuit. The Open 60 yachts battled for the £10,000 charity prize fund and this year's race was won Brian Thompson in Pindar.
His crew included two soldiers who had lost legs in action in Afghanistan. Jono Lee and Chris Herbert had never sailed before this week and are taking part in the Injured Soldiers Sailing Initiative as part of their rehabilitation.
Other celebrity entrants in the seven-boat race, which was a warm-up for the Vendee Globe included Davina McCall, Alistair Campbell, James Haskell and Dean Macey.
For anyone not quite up to racing standard yet, the popular United Kingdom Sailing Academy's (UKSA) Try Sailing initiative will once again give visitors the chance to take to the water for a free one-hour supervised sailing lesson.
Launching the Voyage of Discovery
The sailing is accompanied by music and entertainment around the Yacht Haven, and special events to support the official charity, The Ellen MacArthur Trust.
The Trust announced a new project when 100 young people in recovery from cancer will sail around the UK as part of The Ellen MacArthur Trust Skandia Round Britain Voyage of Discovery.
The voyage will stop at 20 ports and visit the hospitals and treatment centres which have helped them recover from cancer and leukaemia.
BBC Radio Solent's H20 Show caught the atmosphere in the build-up to Cowes Week. Sir Robin Knox-Johnston spoke to organiser Stuart Quarrie about what it takes to put co-ordinate such a prestigious event.
And he saw Cowes Week from a different point of view - the bridge of the Red Funnel ferry, Eagle, which has to navigate its way through hundreds of vessels outside Cowes marina every hour during Cowes Week.
Among the early action, Giles Peckham, won the 'King of Cowes' title - a race between the winners of classes during last year's Cowes Week.
Cowes Week Essentials
last updated: 08/08/2008 at 11:42
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