The lack of title sponsor for the ‘oldest regatta in the world’ in 2009 means that there is a little less marketing noise around Cowes Week, but the flagpoles in the yacht haven are not bare. One of the companies that is making the most of not having to compete for attention with a title sponsor is Artemis, who back UK sailing in several forms and are using Cowes Week as platform to activate.
Today, the highlight at Cowes will be the Artemis Challenge, a chance for the Open 60s to show off with a race around the Isle of Wight, complete with ‘celebrities’ and the chance to win £10,000 for a chosen charity. It’s a very corporate kind of thing, but gives the sponsors of these expensive boats a chance to get a little more value in front of a relevant crowd. The addition of ‘celebrities’ goes some way to try to pick up media coverage outside of the sailing press, but that’s not really the point.
10 Open 60s will compete in a show that will start at 10am off Cowes. Depending on the wind, the boats will be back in 3-7 hours…
Artemis will have two boats in the race. Artemis Ocean Racing will be helmed by new co-skippers Sam Davies and Sidney Gavignet with Eventing World Champion Zara Phillips onboard to compete for their nominated charity Skill Force. Simon Clay, skipper of Artemis the Profit Hunter, will be joined by singer Bryan Adams, and they will be competing for the Bryan Adams Foundation.
Others taking part include Steve White who will be sailing Toe in the Water and will be joined by actress Denise Black. Steve’s nominated to split the prize money equally between the RNLI and the Toe in the Water charity. Another top British female, Dee Caffari, will be sailing her trusty Aviva in aid of Sail 4 Cancer. Dee will be joined by adventurer and explorer Neil Laughton.
Sébastien Josse will be sailing his Vendée yacht, BT IMOCA 60, in aid of The Ellen MacArthur Trust, and will be joined by Dame Ellen MacArthur and Radio 1 DJ Rob Da Bank. Unai Basurko aboard Pakea Bizkaia will be competing for Cruz Roja (Spanish Red Cross of the Sea).
Another sailing legend to take part is Sir Robin Knox- Johnston aboard his Eco 60 Grey Power. Sir Robin this year celebrates the 40 year anniversary of his historic solo circumnavigation of the globe and shows no sign of slowing down at the age of 70. He will be joined by young sailing hope Hannah Jenner, and they will be taking part for the Trinity Sailing Trust in Brixham (Devon).
Last year’s winner, Team Pindar, skippered by Volvo Ocean Race winner Mike Sanderson, will be looking to defend its title in honour of Earthwatch, despite the news that the team’s owners have put the boat up for sale. Mike will be joined by explorer, polar guide and expedition leader Paul Rose.
Popular French sailor Arnaud Boissières will be aboard his new yacht, Akena Vérandas (former PRB), and they will be hoping to score a win for charity A Chacun son Everest. And last but not least, Alex Thomson will be sailing Hugo Boss and his nominated charity is The Quayside Education Centre in Gosport.
To give the fans something to watch while the boats are around the back of the island, the Artemis sponsored Even Keel Project will be showing off their Artemis 20 boats designed to give disabled and disadvantaged sailors a performance sailboat to get involved with.
Our guess is that Artemis might come out of Cowes Week with the highest returns, though iShares will give them a good run for their money – the savvy OC Group win either way.