The Artemis Challenge is welcomed back this year as 8 Open 60s compete in the Round the Island race to raise £10,000 for charity

With the Americas Cup sailors now departed from Cowes following the close of the iShares Cup, it’s now the turn of the solo stars to light the stage in the Solent. At 1000 this morning, eight Open 60s, all with British skippers (bar Seb Josse in BT), will be tormenting the Royal Yacht Squadron start line. And, to further fuel public interest, there’s a ‘celebrity’ aboard each boat too, including Alastair Campbell and Davina McCall. Racing under the IMOCA rules, the fully-crewed boats are competing for a £10k prize fund which will be donated to the winning team’s choice of charity. But there’s no doubt the various skippers will be taking this 50-mile race quite seriously, as it provides a great opportunity to compare speeds before the Vendee Globe start in November. Brian Thompson’s ‘Pindar’, Jonny Malbon’s ‘Artemis’, Mike Golding’s ‘Ecover’ and Alex Thomson’s ‘Hugo Boss’ are among the most radical designs lining up for the Vendee Globe, so all eyes will be on who rounding Ryde first in a few hours time? watch this space.

Currently the conditions are typical for a British August with downpours all morning, but weather guru Chris Tibbs from Sailing-Weather Ltd predicts it to become brighter later. The S-SW winds are expected to increase from 5-10 to 10-15 knots later this morning with 20 knot gusts during the rain showers. Another good week for the High Street foul weather gear vendors here then!