Volvo Ocean Race skippers, Neal and Lisa McDonald, will join Ben Ainslie aboard the Swan 70 Volvo for Life during Cowes Week

Having scooped the Finn world championship last week in Greece, Ben Ainslie MBE is heading back to the UK to take the helm of Volvo for Life a 70ft Swan (Robert Condon’s Serano of London) during Skandia Life Cowes Week which starts this Saturday. The 25-strong crew will also include Volvo Ocean Race skippers Neal and Lisa McDonald and TV/magazine competition winners Helen Rice and Ali Hall.

Although this will be the fifth time Ainslie has competed in Cowes Week it will be his first time as skipper. “It will be a lot of fun sailing on ‘Volvo for life’ with a group of different people, but its serious racing as well. Cowes Week is a fun event but when you are out racing everyone takes it pretty seriously,” commented Ainslie.

Ainslie and his crew will face fierce competition for class zero honours. Peter Ogdens Swan 60 ‘Spirit of Jethou’ will be out on the Solent to defend her title, while the two Farr 52s, ‘Team Tonic’ and ‘Bear of Britain’ have shared honours at every big boat event on the south coast so far this year.

Fellow Sydney gold medallists and RYA team GBR sailors Iain Percy and Shirley Robertson will join Ben on Wednesday 7 August for the Britannia Cup event, the most prestigious race in the Cowes Week series.

“It’s always great to sail with Shirley and Iain and it will also improve our chances of doing well in the Britannia Cup,” continued Ben. Shirley will also sail on the opening day on ‘Volvo for life’, before both she and Iain Percy leave Cowes on Wednesday evening to compete in the Olympic Test Event in Athens and the Star World Championship in California respectively.

Ben, Shirley and Iain are sailing in Skandia Cowes Week as part of their commitment to Volvo Car UK, who support their Athens 2004 campaigns by supplying each of them with a Volvo V70.