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COWES WEEK 2023: MIXED WEATHER FOR SAILING BUT PLENTY OF FUN ON THE SHORE

In the Sunsail Class, winning crews each day were awarded Mermaid spirits as prizes for the top 3 placings as a result of the Isle of Wight Distillery linking up with Prometheus Sailing – the leading yacht charter business in the UK.

On Monday, Xavier Baker co- founder of the distillery, chartered a Sunsail 41 and renamed it Mermaid Spirit. Under the guidance of Sunsail skipper Karen, they took 4th place. Winning the class that day were a team of seasoned Californian sailors, mainly from San Francisco. This was their 2nd year at Cowes Week and 1 of the crew said that although it took a 12-hour flight to get here they liked the Cowes regatta because it was over the week.

The Musto sponsored bar in the Yacht Haven was well attended after racing. Run by local team (Troup Dudley Events) they like to support local brews and employ local staff to run the bar. Some of the Security was provided by Blue Line Security who regularly cover Island events including the Isle of Wight Festival and travel on board cross-Solent ferries during the Isle of Wight Festival period.

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Several local events took place during the week, including, on Monday evening, Medina Bookshop hosting a meet the author session. Malcolm Turner had penned a biography of the Cowes legend Uffa Fox, whilst crime writer Mary Grand presented her latest ‘Death at Castle Cove’.

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Also attending were Katie Daysh, Peter J Murray and Jules Marriner. Later in the week Medina Bookshop welcomed Des Pawson, a renowned expert on knots and ropes. He gave a talk and answered questions from those attending. Having moved from Ipswich, Des is now happily settled in Cowes. His love of knots and all things rope related began when he was given a Scouting book on knots. When he joined the Cubs aged 7 he knew more about knots than all the other boys.

On Tuesday afternoon, anyone taking tea at Northwood House was treated to a performance of the 29 strong Macclesfield Youth Brass Band who were staying on the Island for a week. They also performed at Sandown Carnival, Rylstone Gardens and a RNLI event at Bembridge.

It was good to see a number of Island traders operating in the Regatta Village on the Parade. Island Brewery (Island Ales) had no less than 8 draught beers on tap. For food, The Garden were offering burgers featuring produce from Isle of Wight Meat Company. Island Photo Centre from Union Street, Ryde had their renowned Steiner Marine Binoculars on offer.

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At Northwood Park as well as the Mermaid Gin Garden and Lawn Bar, food was available from Captain Takeaway with their ever-popular pizzas.

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On Wednesday all sailing was cancelled due to rough weather conditions but by Thursday it was all systems go again.

Most of the Week HMS Tyne was anchored off Cowes and to coincide with the Royal Navy having a stand on The Parade, Archer Class HMS Puncher with Lt. Alex “Snowy” Snow as commanding officer, was moored on Trinity Landing. Alex was raised in Shorwell, is married to a local lady and the couple live in Ventnor.

He has 8 years’ service under his belt. Alex said it was a special occasion to bring his vessel into Cowes. HMS Puncher has a permanent crew of 5, is a patrol vessel and is used for officer training. She has recently been deployed to Norway and the Baltic. She boasts twin bridges, 1 open, for all-round views, and the other under cover.

Come December, 3 intrepid Islanders will set off from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to row across The Atlantic to Antigua. Xavier Baker, Chris Mannion and Paul Berry were in the Mermaid Garden in Northwood Park to welcome sponsors and supporters to see their customised rowing boat, “Mermaid Atlantic”. Co-founder of the Mermaid brand Xavier, welcomed guests and related just what their journey of over 3000 nautical miles, entails.

When in the middle of the Atlantic, they will be further from the nearest habitation than they will be from the International Space Station which is 250 miles above the Earth. In last year’s race 1 3-man crew set the record crossing time of 35 days. Will the Island crew beat this record? 1 of their sponsors is Mustang Clothing which is providing full weather-proof gear for the crew.

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Thursday evening saw the Mount Gay Rum party in Cowes Yacht Haven Event Centre which was bedecked in the red and yellow of Mount Gay. These coloured banners and flags were also across the town including the Mount Gay Bar in the Yacht Haven, on the Parade and at The Globe where supporters of the company were entertained. Therefore, hundreds of the famous red caps were seen all over Cowes during the Week.

Friday saw the prize giving In the Yacht Haven Event Centre. Winners of the Black Group was local Jo Richards and his seasoned team including David Rickard, Duncan De Boltz and Sophie Warren on Woof – a 1972-built modified H-Boat.

Mark Downer and family sailing the Redwing Enigma not only won White Group but with an impressive and consistent set of results throughout the week, which included 4 1sts, and 1 2nd place, they were also deemed overall winners of Cowes Week 2023.

Mark Downer, who’s been racing at Cowes Week for 24 years and who this week raced with his wife Jo and son Alex, said they are ecstatic to have finally won.

Next year’s Cowes Week will take place from 27th July to 2nd August.

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