Some of the biggest names in sailing took part in a round the cans race on the Wednesday of Skandia Cowes Week to raise funds for Sail 4 Cancer

Members of the public and sailors alike bought raffle tickets to win a chance to sail in the race with one of the eight celebrities, each crew being made up of one sailing celebrity and one raffle winner. The entry list read like a ‘Who’s Who’ in sailing, comprising Olympians Shirley Robertson, Ben Ainslie, Iain Percy and Steve Mitchell, Vendée Globe heroes Nick Moloney and Alex Thomson, Around Alone heroine Emma Richards and Sydney-Hobart winner Grant Wharington.

Ranging in age from 31 to 50, the raffle winners came from as far as Nottingham, Derby and the USA to take part in the Challenge. Most, but not all, managed to get around the course without taking a swim. Grant Wharington was the first celebrity to take a dip, shortly followed by Sail 4 Cancer patron Nick Moloney and Emma Richards. Iain Percy and Alex Thomson came very close to testing their buoyancy aids as well, both demonstrating the perfect dry capsize!

The results however speak for themselves. The dinghy pedigree shone from the start of Race 1 with Ben stealing the show in the first race, hotly pursued by Shirley, Iain and Steve. Emma and Alex crossed the finish line next, followed by the soaked Australians Nick and Grant. Race 2 had a similar outcome, with Ben finishing with some margin, so much so that he chose to cross the finish line backwards! Grant restored some Australian pride by finishing second, with third place being closely contested by Shirley, Iain, Steve and Emma.

Tim Sewell, Skandia’s Sponsorship Manager said: “It was great to see so many top sailing stars at Skandia Cowes Week supporting Sail 4 Cancer in this high profile Challenge.” As well as helping to raise money, events like this are a great way of showing people how much fun sailing is.”

Commenting on the race, Andy Hayward, Founder of Sail 4 Cancer, said: “For me personally, it was a very proud moment to see so many of the world’s famous sailors supporting a cause which we set up four years ago. The support we’ve had from the sailing, corporate and local communities alike has been fantastic. This initiative alone has raised over £1,500 for Sail 4 Cancer and I would like to thank the UKSA for staging the whole event, RS for lending us the boats, Skandia for helping us to bring all these people together and to Henri-Lloyd for providing the clothing.”

Sail 4 Cancer is auctioning one of the Henri-Lloyd Stars of Sailing jackets, signed by each of the Stars of Sailing, with the aim of raising additional funds. The auction page can be accessed from the Sail 4 Cancer website on Alternatively, people can place their bids by telephone by calling 0845 408 1849. The Auction will close on 30 September 2005.

Sail 4 Cancer was set up by a group of keen sailors who have lost a close relative or friend to cancer in recent years and aims to raise funds for cancer treatment and research through the organisation of high profile sailing events. Sail 4 Cancer also provides sailing opportunities for cancer patients and their families with the aim of improving their quality of life. Sail 4 Cancer is the Official Charity of the Skandia Set Sail programme and has operations in both the UK and Australia.