Record breaking day at Cowes

Zara Phillips joined the sailors at Cowes yesterday.

Zara Phillips joined the sailors at Cowes yesterday.

First published in Sailing News

IT was a record breaking day as some of the biggest names in yachting raced around the Isle of Wight in a £10,000 charity bonanza.

Giant trimaran Foncia stormed around the 55-mile Artemis Challenge course in just two hours 21 minutes, taking this year’s title and smashing the previous best time by a whopping 10 minutes.

Another yacht in the MOD70 class, Musandam-OmanSail, crossed the line off Cowes just over a minute behind after a tense and closely fought contest.

It was also a battle up the line for the two IMOCA 60s, with Gamesa pipping Artemis Ocean Racing II by just under two minutes.

With the Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week celebrating Ladies Day, the race proved a glamorous occasion from the outset.

The Queen's granddaughter, Olympic silver medallist Zara Phillips was on hand to help start the race off Cowes yesterday morning.

Team one consisted of Musandam-OmanSail, skippered by Sidney Gavignet, who also had record setting sailors Brian Thompson and Dee Caffari onboard, and Artemis, whose crew included Team GB members Nick Dempsey and Lucy Macgregor plus Daily Echo reporter Julian Robinson.

Team two saw Vendee Globe rivals Mike Golding, onboard Gamesa and Michel Desjoyeaux with Sir Robin Knox Johnson and double silver medallist Ian Walker, pair up together.

The race was not only for the glory of winning and breaking records but also to raise money for worthy causes.

The £12,000 prize fund charity was shared this year, with the winning pair splitting £8,000 and the fastest IMOCA 60 and MOD70 each winning £2,000 for their chosen charity.

Foncia’s skipper, legendary offshore sailor Michel Desjoyeaux, said after the race: “That was good. The weather was sunny and also we had nice conditions with lots of wind all the way along.

“We had a few tacks to go to the Needles, which slowed us up, and Oman Sail were faster upwind, they tacked in front of us, but they missed their last tack so we were able to overtake, pick up speed and finish first. It’s the first time I have raced around the Isle of Wight – the first, but a good one.”

Ladies Day, aimed at celebrating the success of women in sailing , came to a conclusion last night with a special receptionat the Talisker Boathouse in Cowes Yacht Haven followed by a Mount Gay Rum Red Cap Party at Shepards Wharf Marina.

Many of Team GB’s medal winning sailors were due in Cowes today for a Best of British celebration day.

The festivities end tonight with the traditional spectacular fireworks display over the town.

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