Regatta charity UKSA is providing lots of opportunities for members of the public to get afloat

Big names including Princess Anne, Pippa Middleton, Olympian Heather Fell, actor Warwick Davis and rising stars in the British Sailing Team have so far been spotted at Cowes Week 2014.

The week-long yachting event, which runs until Saturday 9 August, was established in 1826 and has run every August since – except for during the two world wars.

Yet despite its prestigious reputation, this year’s Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week is enabling more members of public than ever to try their hand at the sport, with sailing taster sessions run by the official regatta charity UKSA.

Hundreds of would-be sailors have enjoyed one-and-a-half hour sessions with qualified instructors on Colgate 26 keelboats. The sessions have been fully booked every day during the event so far – and are already booked out for tomorrow, the last day of the Try Sailing.

Each participant is asked to donate £5 towards the charity – money that will go directly towards UKSA’s scheme to offer every Year 6 primary

school child on the Isle of Wight an opportunity to experience watersports

– some 1,600 pupils.

The UKSA’s Boss up a Mast fundraiser has also proved successful with 17 managing directors and company chief executives raising £8,599 so far, after being winched up a 100ft mast with their mobile phones and not allowed back down until their contacts pledged donations.

‘Absolutely brilliant’

UKSA

CEO Richard Thornton praised the UKSA staff ‘Charles and Sticky’ who had the gruelling job of winching the bosses up the mast at top speed.

He added: ‘Everything we raise throughout our participation in Cowes will go towards our scheme to get every Year 6 pupil out on the water.

‘It’s been absolutely brilliant. We’ve enjoyed the support of Princess Anne and her husband Sir Tim, Pippa Middleton.

‘Princess Anne and Sir Tim came out sailing with us and The Princess Royal brought areally competitive edge to the day. She took to the helm well before we crossed the finishing line. We stomped the UKSA boat with Sir Tim on board.’

PBO on board

Two of the UKSA’s Farr 65 yachts are racing every day during the regatta.

I joined the crew of Whirlwind II yesterday, along with celebrity guests Heather Fell and Olympic sailing hopefuls Anna Burnet and Flora Stewart.

Olympian Heather Fell, who claimed silver in the Modern Pentathlon at the Beijing 2008 Games, said: ‘I came down as an ambassador for Chatham. I’ve never been to Cowes Week before, although I’d always wanted to.

‘Since doing the Clipper Race I wanted to come now I know a little more about sailing. I heard about UKSA and they invited me out for a sail, which was very generous of them.’

She added: ‘It’s a great charity to be involved with. I was lucky, I was brought up on sport and it was always part of my life.

‘The more people we can get involved in sport the beter as the values of sport carry through to everything, in business and in life.’

The UKSA provides training courses for all ages from beginner water sports enthusiasts to superyacht engineers.

Teenager Arran King, aged 15, volunteered with the charity for a year and was offered a powerboat qualification course by UKSA in thanks.

He now works, out of school hours, with a family friend delivering and chartering superyachts. He said: ‘UKSA gave me the right training so when I was given opportunities through my family, I had the skills to keep me in the job.’

This year’s event marks the 80th anniversary of the Victory Class. Heather, Anna and Flora were whisked off the UKSA boat, as it neared the end of its round the island course on Wednesday to take part in a special Victory Race.

Still to come

Friday’s finale will include a Red

Arrow performance from 7.30pm and the event’s famous fireworks display from 9.30pm.

Plus live music all day from 12pm on Cowes Parade, Gutter Boat Racing at the UKSA marquee at Cowes Yacht Haven and a chance to climb the mast of the iconic Gipsy Moth IV.

New for Cowes Week History, Northwood Park is playing

host to a 100ft Ferris wheel,

allowing event visitors to get a stunning view of all the action across

the whole town and Solent.

The action will continue with shoreside entertainment and on-the-water racing on Saturday.

Find out more at: www.aamcowesweek.co.uk

Pictures of Princess Anne and Sir Tim credited to Lloyd Images and UKSA.