David Coulthard and Davina McCall are among the celebrities taking part in next week's special Open 60 round the island race at Skandia Cowes Week

Formula 1 Grand Prix racing driver David Coulthard and TV personality and host of Channel 4’s ‘Big Brother’ Davina McCall, are gearing up to race around the Isle of Wight onboard grand prix racing yachts in The Open@Skandia Cowes Week on Thursday 4 August. Also joining them is adventurer and Champagne Mumm ambassador Bear Grylls and TV Presenter Nick Knowles. Additional celebrity names are in the process of being confirmed.

The Open@Skandia Cowes Week is a Pro-Am Celebrity Round The Island (Isle of Wight) Race that will start from the Royal Yacht Squadron line at 1000. Competing in this inaugural race will be yachts from the Open 60 fleet skippered by Britain’s and France’s leading professional solo yachtsmen; notorious for their recent racing exploits in the solo, non stop, single-handed circumnavigation, the Vendée Globe.

Skippers Alex Thomson, (Hugo Boss), Mike Golding (Ecover), Emma Richards (Pindar), Nick Moloney (Skandia), and Conrad Humphreys (Hellomoto) are all expected to compete in this exciting new race in the Skandia Cowes Week programme. The anticipated French contingent includes skippers, Anne Liardet (Roxy) and Marc Theircelin (Pro Form).

The race is being run by Cowes Combined Clubs (CCC) as part of Skandia Cowes Week’s racing line-up and is organised by sports management company AT Racing Ltd, founded by professional yachtsman Alex Thomson, in conjunction with entrepreneur, Keith Mills, CEO of the recently successful London 2012 Olympic Bid.

Tanya Brookfield, Director of AT Racing Ltd commented: “The Open@Skandia Cowes Week is a great opportunity to raise the profile of sailing and bring the sport to the public’s attention. Celebrity endorsement of sailing helps to highlight a sport that is adventurous, challenging and exciting. Skandia Cowes Week is the perfect platform in the UK sailing arena to marry the excitement of grand prix sailing in the Open 60 class with top celebrities and to showcase this to participants and spectators of the UK’s leading regatta.”

Stuart Quarrie, CCC Regatta Director added: “I am in awe of the Open 60 sailors who compete in single-handed events such as the Vendée Globe in these powerful boats. It is really great to have them taking part in Skandia Cowes Week, together with the celebrities, some of whom are heroes in their own right.”

The proposed schedule will include a skippers and celebrity co-skipper race briefing from CCC Director Stuart Quarrie at 0830 in the Skandia Marquee, Cowes Yacht Haven prior to the 1000 gun. Weather permitting, the boats will start to the east of the island, head down towards St Catherine’s Point, around the Isle of Wight, past the Needles and then across the finish line in front of the world’s most famous yacht club, the Royal Yacht Squadron.

The skippers and their celebrity co-skippers will then head back to the Skandia Marquee for a prizegiving.