COWES Week got the royal seal of approval as Zara Phillips put her sea legs to the test.

Thousands gathered at the sailing extravaganza to catch a glimpse of Zara and her celebrity crewmates racing around the Island for the Artemis Challenge.

The famous faces joined renowned round-the-world sailors to add some glamour to the exciting 55-mile course and brave the unpredictable tides of the Solent.

Six round-the-world IMOCA 60 racers lined up on the start line at the Royal Yacht Squadron yesterday morning, determined to bag the £10,000 charity prize fund.

Hoping to prove their nautical prowess alongside Zara, were Winter Olympic skeleton bob gold medallist Amy Williams, GMTV presenter Emma Crosby and former England rugby player Martin Bayfield.

Adding that extra bit of magic were the Weasley twins from the Harry Potter films, James and Oliver Phelps, who jumped on board for the second successive year.

The race got off to a slow start in the morning, with light winds preventing any high-speed action early on, but as the teams got to the west side of the Island, speeds picked up for an exciting finish.

Zara and Amy teamed up with Olympic sailor Simon Hiscocks on the Artemis Ocean Racing boat and did an incredible job to bag a podium finish, coming in third.

But it was Hampshire’s world-record breaking ocean racer Mike Golding who stormed across the finish line first, just before 5pm after seven hours of racing.

He scooped the prize for the RNLI, the regatta’s official charity. Amy, who won Olympic gold with her bob skeleton that was designed by two post-graduates from Southampton University, said: “I know everyone’s in it to win it, but it is great to be racing not only for yourselves, but also for others, since we were all competing for charity.”