The Sunsail 37 class is a purely chartered one design fleet. Yachting World's Hannah Emanuel spent the day aboard Skandia Investments to find out the appeal

The Sunsail 37 fleet is an interesting one design class, since all of the boats without exception are chartered. It is one of the larger fleets with 63 boats registered to compete at Skandia Cowes Week for 2005 (although 20 of those did not make today’s race). Many of the crews who charter Sunsail 37s are corporate teams from the likes of Royal Bank of Scotland, Deloitte and of course, Skandia. The cost of chartering one is around £8, 000 for Skandia Cowes Week this includes fuel, mooring and insurance. Skandia have chartered three of the 63 boats and I was lucky enough to spend the day aboardSkandia Investments- otherwise known asNumber 12, skippered by Russell Farrington.

Waiting for the signal to set off from the Yacht Haven, with the Skandia flags hanging limply from their poles, I was convinced that it would be another disappointing day ashore. But as we motored out to the start, the conditions suddenly picked up and we were off with a generous south westerly, at its maximum, around 15 knots of wind. We were yet to begin the race though. We milled about at the start for what seemed like a lifetime, a couple of the crew had dropped off in the sun by the time we got the signal for ten minutes to start. Our first attempt at starting was foiled by a large container ship crossing the line, which held the fleet back another half an hour.

Finally we set off and the regular crew took over for the first tack but once the critical start of the race was out of the way, the visitors onboard got down to work. Racing in a one design fleet like the Sunsail 37s, is very exciting and with the boats on top of each other playing cat and mouse along the course, you can’t help but get incredibly competitive. It became immediately clear that for the crew on boardNumber 12, it was definitely not the taking part that counts, but beating the other Skandia teams in our fleet.

After rounding the first mark, we hoisted the spinnaker, but it was taking it down on the next mark that could have cost us the race. All eight crew were on hand to make sure that the process went smoothly and the sail avoided the water at all costs. The most exciting point of the race was catching up and overtakingNumber 10, Skandia Protection. Although they nearly took us at the final mark, we managed to gybe our way clear, blowing ‘dirty wind’ in their faces as we left them trailing behind.

Coming ninth in the fleet was a veritable victory, especially since three of the crew had never really sailed before and I was taking my first turn on the jib. We beat both the other Skandia boats, the old timers aboardSkandia Pensionscoming 43rd in today’s 43 boat line up. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and my first race at Cowes has certainly left me hungry for more.