It was an emotionally charged scene at the Prizegiving for the inaugural Artemis Even Keel Challenge at Cowes Week last night.

Members of the organising teams from the Even Keel Project and UKSA, the Race Team from the Royal Yacht Squadron who so kindly gave up their time to run the Artemis Even Keel Challenge racing, the professional skippers and assembled guests comprising the CEO of the RYA, Sarah Treseder, friends and families and media, were quite overcome by the extraordinarily inspirational young, and not so young, disabled sailors who competed in the 2010 Challenge.

The final rounds in the two-day racing series that witnessed the initial 12 disabled sailors from Sunday’s first rounds whittled down to six finalists racing with professional helmsmen yesterday, got off to a late start as the whole of Cowes Week’s well-planned starting schedule was put back owing to a distinct lack of wind.

Late starts apart, the spirits of the finalists and their helmsmen was undampened as everyone boarded the six Artemis 20 keelboats parked up at Trinity Landing in Cowes.

Racing finally got underway just after 6pm with an upwind/downwind course set to allow spectators to enjoy the start off the Royal Yacht Squadron line and the short-course racing off the Green. The helmsmen in the finals were Brian Thompson, Simon ‘Lovely’ Clay, Nick Rogers, Steve White, Rob Greenhalgh and Tom Webb.

The wind stayed up for the duration of the final race and despite a strong tide it was a close fought battle between the fleet that, at some points, had the Extreme 40 boats carving through the fleet having completed their racing for the evening.

Rob Greenhalgh with 22-year old Craig Rose from Ryde, IoW, onboard, took the lead over the start line and after stretching it out to a good eight boat lengths held on to cross the finish line comfortably as the proud winners whilst Nick Rogers with James Loosemore on board grabbed second place.

Meanwhile further back, the racing was tight and a gripping battle ensued between Tom Webb with Trevor Hutchinson on board and Brian Thompson with Natasha Lambert which resulted in the young Tom Webb taking a creditable third place by half a boat length over the highly experienced offshore yachtsman Brian Thompson!

The Artemis Even Keel Challenge Trophy 2010 was presented to winners Rob Greenhalgh and Craig Rose by the Managing Director of Artemis Investment Management, Richard Turpin who spoke heartfelt words of thanks and acknowledgement of the passion and vision of the Even Keel Project’s Managing Director, Dave Rutter.

What a result!

First – Craig Rose, a stroke victim + Rob Greenhalgh, offshore yachtsman and veteran of the Volvo Ocean Race and the Extreme sailing Series.

Second – James Loosemore, who has a form of cerebral palsy + Nick Rogers, double Olympic Silver medallist in the 470 class.

Third – Trevor Hutchinson Trevor has Parkinsons and this has driven him to experience sailing in the format the Even Keel Project can offer + Tom Webb, National Schools Sailing Champion.