Girl power makes its mark on new-style Skandia Squad for this year's Cowes Week

Skandia has chosen the five crews who will sail as the Skandia Squad at this year’s Skandia Cowes Week (30 July – 6 August) and three of them are all-female teams.

This year’s Squad involves all five crews competing against each other in the Sonar class.

Each crew represents a different region in the UK: South, Midlands, West, East and North. The crews were selected following a nationwide competition to find people who would like to race at Skandia Cowes Week but either do not have the resources or experience to do so.

Tim Sewell, Skandia’s sponsorship manager said: “We wanted to open up the Squad to people who would love to compete at this major event but don’t feel they can because they either don’t have a boat or don’t think they have got enough sailing experience to take on the challenge. We’ve had a terrific response – particularly from women – and it was very difficult to make the final choices. However, the final line-up promises to provide some great racing.”

Each Skandia Squad crew comprises four people: three competition winners and one qualified instructor from the Cowes-based United Kingdom Sailing Academy (UKSA). The UKSA are also providing food and accommodation for all the crews for the entire week of racing.

As in previous years, each crew will sail under one of Skandia’s core values: Courage; Contribution; Commitment; Creativity and Passion.

The five teams are as follows

    MIDLANDS: Contribution. Ruth Marrison (19), who has been deaf since birth; Rosemary Ellis (38) and Karen Glisson (39) – all from Oxford

  • NORTH: Commitment Kirsten Pollock (25) from Halifax, West Yorkshire, who has Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy/Complex Regional Pain Syndrome as a result of slipping on the stairs aged 21; Lucy Hodges (29) from Rochford, Essex is registered blind; Megan Pascoe (18) from Ardingly, West Sussex is Hemiplegic down one side of her body.
  • WEST: Passion Nikki Sitwell (30); Jane Caldwell (35) and Emma Reynolds (26) – all living in Bristol (Emma is originally from Australia)

  • EAST: Creativity Alan Ambridge (58) from Little Clacton, Essex; David Potter (53) from Orpington, Kent and Geoffrey Deverill (53) from Sutton, Surrey

  • SOUTH: Courage Nigel Gallimore (41) from Bournemouth; David Donovan (31) from Basingstoke and Shirley Roberts (49) from the Isle of Wight. All were winners in a competition run by BBC South Today to find people who have demonstrated courage

In addition to being provided with use of a boat, accommodation and expert instruction by UKSA, each crew member receives Henri Lloyd clothing; Wightlink travel to and from the Isle of Wight; Mumm Champagne and access to the Skandia marquee.