Milking Cowes Week: How to get most out of world’s best regatta

World-beating sailor lends her expertise ahead of the Isle of Wight extravaganza

PREPARATION comes in all sorts of guises. As an Olympic Sailor I spent four years preparing for one event; our thoughts encompassed all possibilities and we prepared and practised for everything that was in our control.

Walking around Cowes last weekend it was clear that preparations to the town were nearly complete – the tents were up, the flags were raised, and as the weekend approaches the marinas will fill up.

Competitors will have done all their on-the-water practice. There will be some taking it seriously – like my husband who spent Saturday evening checking the positions of all the rocks along the shore line at low tide – and some who will simply dust off the boat and go out for some fun.

Saturday brings us the first day of Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, the world’s best known sailing regatta. With eight days of racing ahead, you could be forgiven for thinking that was what the week was all about.

But it is as much about the shore-side activities as it is about the racing. I think success on the water is certainly affected by ability to juggle nights out versus the day’s racing! I will be there this year to keep you up to date with the action as it happens, and here are my top 10 things not to be missed if you’re in Cowes too.

XOD starts
The XODs – 21ft wooden keelboats – are celebrating their 100th year and there will be over 140 boats. During the week they will be starting on the Royal Yacht Squadron Start line but on Thursday at 10am HRH The Princess Royal will start their race. That many boats on one start line will be incredible to watch!

Cowes Week Radio
The only Radio station to listen to during Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week. I even listened to it whilst I was in China before the Olympic Games in 2008 – just so I could know what was going on! Find it on 87.7fm and online at

Extreme 40s
These state of the art 40ft catamarans – which mean fast and furious – will be racing close enough to see all the action from the shore every day, starting at 3pm. With 12 boats and a line up of Olympic sailors – including 2007 America’s Cup winners Alinghi – it will be easy and fun to watch.

Family Day
A first for Cowes week, and as a new mum something to look forward to. A range of free events including model boat racing and viewings of the Sea Cadets training ship – a perfect day out for Sunday!

Red Arrows
I just love them, and they will be performing a typically eye-catching display over Cowes on Saturday 7:30pm.

Cowes Week and spectacular firework displays are synonymous, and this year’s is on Friday 12th August at 9:30pm.

Toe in the Water Curry Night
Wednesday sees this charity night, which boasts curry cooked by The Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistics Regiment.

The Beer Tent
The Yacht Haven hosts a number of eating and drinking establishments, not least the beer tent, a must for an after sailing beverage or two!

Taking in the atmosphere
The Marinas, the High Street, the Parade and the Green will all provide excitement and entertainment, and there will be racing to watch all day.

Sail for a day
For just £5 you can go out for an hour’s sail, (£15 on the Sunday for a family of four) with UKSA. For enquiries contact

Double Olympic champ in City A.M.

SARAH GOSLING OBE, winner of gold medals at the last two Olympic Games, will write an exclusive diary for City A.M. every day next week from Cowes.

A sailor from the age of six, she was part of the Three Blondes in a Boat who achieved Yngling glory for Britain in Athens in 2004. Four years, with a slightly different trio, later she repeated the feat in Beijing.

Sarah is a veteran of Cowes week but will not be competing this year.