Carl Murphy, 14, lays down the gauntlet to under-25s in an ambitious four-day attempt on the Skandia Cowes Week Young Skipper's trophy

A bumper entry has caused stiff competition for this year’s Skandia Cowes Week Young Skipper’s trophy. A total of 23 young people, aged between 14 and 25, are carving the waters of the Solent in pursuit of this prestigious award.

Carl Murphy, from Portsmouth, is the youngest entrant this year, aged just 14. With a staggering seven years of experience under his belt, his ambitions are high: to catch the fleet in four days, beginning today. Competition is tough. Among those he has to beat is Dan Taylor, 23, who works for Cowes-based UKSA (United Kingdom Sailing Academy). Sailing Hunter 707Loose Cannon, he hopes that winning the trophy would gain him recognition and credibility in the yachting industry and help him progress with his career as a professional yachtsman. UKSA is a key point of contact for aspirational young yachtsmen, frequently giving them a start in the industry. Dan explained: “We run yacht and dinghy training for everyone, from underprivileged kids right through to people like Ellen MacArthur.”

Currently leading competition for the trophy is Charlie Russell, 20, aboard his National SonataArgo. Entry for the award is free and open to all young skippers under 25; applicants simply tick a box on the Skandia Cowes Week entry form. Nick Moloney, who will be competing in the Vendée Globe race in November, will take time out from his rigorous training to present the award on Saturday.