Celebrating the start of the countdown to London 2012

A spinnaker bearing the London 2012 logo is to be hoisted in front of the Needles – the Isle of Wight’s most famous landmark – to celebrate the end of the Beijing Olympics on Sunday and the so called handover – the start of the countdown to London in four years’ time.

Every local authority in Britain has been invited to hoist the Handover Flag to celebrate the moment when Great Britain becomes the next Olympic host. The Isle of Wight has one of the most imaginative events to mark the special occasion.

A young crew will sail to the Needles onboard Paddiywack, a 32ft Seaquest yacht and at 3.30pm will hoist a spinnaker bearing the London 2012 logo and raise the Handover Flag. Following a photo shoot, the crew will sail to Cowes where they will be greeted by the Isle of Wight Council’s Chairman and young people belonging to the Island’s Talented and Gifted Sports Programme who are hoping to represent the Island at the International Island Games to be held on the Isle of Wight in 2011.

They will also be joined by the Leader of the Isle of Wight Council Cllr David Pugh, the Chairman of the Island Games Committee David Ball and Olympic rower Louis Attrill from Sandown with his gold medal won at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.

The Handover Flag will then be hoisted as a symbol of inspiration to young sportsmen and women across the Island who are aspiring to become the Olympians of the future. A samba band will play before guests attend a small drinks reception at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Cowes hosted by the Isle of Wight Council.

In the lead up to the 2012 Games, the Isle of Wight Council’s sports unit will take the Handover Flag on a tour of the Island’s schools, giving students on the Island the opportunity to see the special flag while learning more about the Games and finding out how they can get involved in sporting activities.

One of the Island’s most famous Olympians, double gold medal winning sailor Shirley Robertson OBE, said: “With London 2012 fast approaching, I hope young people on the Island will be inspired to try new sports and make the most of the fantastic sporting facilities and opportunities the Island has to offer.”