Mike Kopman crawls the clubs and bars of Cowes to bring you the latest gossip

Skandia Cowes Week brings together enthusiastic amateurs and some of the biggest names in the game. Throw in a carnival atmosphere, busy social programme, and plenty of Caribbean rum and there’s no telling what stories you may catch wind of.

Alex Thompson’s AT Racing has tried some innovative ways of raising the money they need to enter the 2005 Vend&eacutee including putting the campaign up on eBay (with a £1.4 million reserve) and rebranding his Lombard-designed Open 60www.needasponsor.co.uk. Something seems to have worked, because rumour has it that he has found himself a sponsor. No official announcement has been made but we have heard that the backer will not come as a major surprise, so expect something other thanwww.gottasponsor.co.ukon the topsides. We do know that his boat, ex-Sill Enterprises, is already in France for a six-week refit, under the management of Vend&eacutee veteran Josh Hall. Way to go Alex!

Also overheard was a rumour that Seahorse Sailor of the Month Andrew Pindar has decided to back the ambitions of yet another young female sailing hopeful. Lea Ditton, 24, met Pindar in Antigua earlier this year and later approached him to put up the £4,000 needed to purchase a battered 30-footer in South Africa in which she intended to enter the Europe 1 Newman Star – the corinthian alternative to the Transat and derivative of the old OSTAR. Ultimately she got a lot more than she bargained for. Pindar has bought the Open 40Spirit of Canadafrom Derek Hatfield, who is having a new Owen-designed Open 60 built for the 5 Oceans Race in 2006.Spirit of Canadawas previously saved by Pindar’s boundless generosity when he donated a new mast after she was pitchpoled and dismasted off Cape Horn during the 2002/2003 Around Alone. A Fine Art student in London, Ditton plans to use the boat as a giant diary during the race and exhibit it outside the Tate Modern as part of her final project!

Lastly, a well known figure in the sport was overheard at the RYS two nights ago talking enthusiastically, and perhaps a little too vocally, about “an event that will make the Cup look like a children’s playground.” Unfortunately the gentleman quickly realised several ears in the immediate vicinity had pricked up and the conversation was quickly terminated. Well, Mr Coutts and Mr Cayard, do you know anything more about this?