More initiatives thanks to Ondeck and Skandia are allowing Cowes Week visitors the chance to sail and even race

2008 is seeing more and more visitors to Skandia Cowes Week getting involved in sailing. For years corporate yachts have taken part in the week’s racing, allowing all walks of life the chance to become part of a competitive crew, and experience the entire event on the water. However, getting a place comes at a price and booking early is recommended. Therefore it is worth keeping an eye out for alternatives when you get here, as a day’s racing on the Solent is still available.

This year sees the return of Skandia’s ‘Try Sailing’ initiative, in conjunction with the UKSA (United Kingdom Sailing Academy). Over the last three years, hundreds of visitors have been able to take to the water for a one-hour sailing lesson – completely free. Jo Rimmer, the scheme’s organiser at Cowes, explains, “anyone over the age of eight qualifies. All they need to do is bring along suitable footwear and we provide the rest. We even have a specially designed boat – the Artemis 20 – available for disabled visitors.” The Try Sailing programme is running all week, and the team can be found along Cowes Parade.

Ondeck are also running initiatives for people to get involved. Their ocean fleet – including Farr 65s and Clipper 68s – are racing in their own class this year, and anyone is welcome. Visitors are being invited to take part in the unique “Rock up and Race” scheme, offering individuals with little or no experience a day’s racing.

As well as signing up to race, Ondeck are also offering the option to go out for an afternoons leisurely ‘spectator sail’, or for the more fast paced individual, the “Rock up and RIB” programme gives spectators the chance to observe the racing up close on a powerboat. More information and prices can be found on their website , or simply head to the Cowes Yacht Haven, where Ondeck will be based all week.