Isle of Wight sailing extravaganza expected to be the best yet

One of the world’s most popular regattas, Cowes Week, opens tonight, with eight days of racing starting tomorrow, Saturday 6 August.

New title sponsor Aberdeen Asset Management is coming on board in this, the Regatta’s 185th year.

In response to feedback, changes and additions for 2011 include:

  • Reinstatement of the Island Sailing Club Rating System (ISCRS), resulting in dropping of the IRC non-spinnaker Class
  • A smartphone version of the event website
  • Limited trialling of a tracking system ‘ngTrack’ with intent to extend next year
  • Free distress flare disposal for regatta participants
  • Staggered Skippers briefings (in the bar, of course)
  • Choice of prizes
  • The Big Boat Series from Tues 9 – Thurs 11 for boats arriving for the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race

Other events linking to Cowes Week include the Extreme Sailing Series, whose 12 hi-tech Extreme 40 catamarans will make their only UK stop at Cowes to provide seven days of adrenalin-filled multihull racing. And the sixth Artemis Challenge will see five IMOCA 60 Open monohulls follow the original America’s Cup route round the island, raising money for charities and featuring celebrity crew members including actor Ewan McGregor and newlywed royal Zara Phillips.

Other special activities within the week include the X One Design Centenary regatta, from Tues-Thurs, when the XODs will field 145 boats, the largest single fleet ever in Cowes Week history. And celebrating 40 years of a design classic the Contessa 32 Class stages an allcomers anniversary race on Sunday 7 August.

Shoreside entertainments will include the first-ever Family Day on the Sunday. Acts appearing over the week are as diverse as Alvin Stardust, the Ukelele Orchestra and Gypsy Trio plus tribute bands Bootleg Blondie and Mumma Mia. For those prepared to dress for excess a Miami Vice-themed party on the first Saturday is a must. The Red Arrows will put on a show in the hopefully-dry skies tomorrow evening.

As for the sailing, while the weather outlook for the week is unsettled, going with that is the promise of some good winds.

You can listen to live commentary and highlights on Cowes Radio. Making its 26th annual broadcast, the award-winning station can be accessed on 87.7FM or