Cowes Week – Big name stars battle it out for charity

Hugo Boss, skippered by British offshore racer Alex Thomson, with Ewan Mcgregor onboard, during The Artemis Challenge round the Island race - Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week 2011
Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week - The Artemis Challenge, a high adrenaline 50 mile race, took place today, Wednesday August 10th. The fifth edition of the event was a near record-breaking day out for Ewan McGregor, Zara Phillips and Natalie Pinkham, who joined world class skippers for the fast and furious sail around the Isle of Wight.

The Artemis Challenge, at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, the world’s largest sailing regatta and one of the UK’s biggest sporting events, saw four Imoca 60 teams battle it out for a £10,000 prize fund for the charity of their choice. The fifth edition of the Artemis Challenge was won by the French entry PRB skippered by Vincent Riou, winner of the last solo, non-stop Vendee Globe, in a time of four hours, 14 minutes and 1 second, narrowly missing out on breaking the previous fastest time by just 13 seconds, set by Team Pindar (4h 13m 48s) in the 2008 Artemis Challenge.

Hollywood A-lister Ewan McGregor, who joined the Hugo Boss sailing team led by British round-the-world skipper Alex Thomson, said: 'It was an amazing experience - it was my first time yacht racing and to be part of the Hugo Boss team was a fantastic introduction to a really adventurous sport. Although the prize fund will not be awarded to UNICEF, I was pleased to be able to represent such a great cause on the water today and we hopefully helped to raise awareness of UNICEF'S crucial work for children in East Africa. And of course we can all still share a little of what we have with these children who so desperately need our help by texting SHARE to 78866.'

Artemis Ocean Racing, skippered by record-breaking yachtswoman Dee Caffari, with Zara Phillips and Natalie Pinkham onboard, during The Artemis Challenge round the Island race...Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week 2011 - Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week 2011

Zara Phillips, former world champion equestrienne, racing in her third Artemis Challenge was on Artemis Ocean Racing, skippered by record-breaking yachtswoman Dee Caffari. They were also joined by TV and radio presenter Natalie Pinkham said. Zara Phillips said: 'It was a great day on the water today on Artemis Ocean Racing. I really enjoyed sailing with Dee and Natalie, and although we didn’t claim the prize for Toe in the Water it was great to be back at Cowes and go round the island so quickly.'

The Artemis Challenge started in a moderate southerly breeze at 1000 BST as PRB stayed close to the island shore out of the foul tide and gained an advantage that the French team managed to hold right through to the finish. By the time the four-boat Imoca 60 fleet of PRB, Cheminees Poujoulat, Artemis Ocean Racing and Hugo Boss rounded Bembridge Ledge at the eastern end of the island and headed upwind round the back of the island, the wind was increasing in strength reaching up to 25 knots, with stronger gusts, which provided spectacular downwind ‘surfing’ conditions on the home run from The Needles to the Royal Yacht Squadron finish line off Cowes. Bernard Stamm’s team on Cheminees Poujoulat challenged PRB throughout whilst Artemis Ocean Racing and Hugo Boss engaged in a great battle for third place.

'The conditions were fantastic,' said Dee Caffari, the only female skipper to have circumnavigated the globe solo in both directions. 'We led Hugo Boss all the way around to The Needles but we were gutted in the end, as we ripped our spinnaker which meant they overtook us. But we had a really great day.'

PRB’s nominated charity is Foundation Movement for Children's Village Foundation (MVE) and will receive a cheque for £10,000.

The Artemis Challenge, sponsored by Artemis investment Management, one of the UK’s leading investment companies and the largest British sponsor in offshore sailing, is recognised as one of the key events of Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week and is a magnificent spectacle, showcasing the best of offshore racing within easy reach of spectators.

Results of the Artemis Challenge 2011:
1st PRB (Vincent Riou) finish time 14:14:01 BST
2nd Cheminees Poujoulat (Bernard Stamm) finish time 14:20:05 BST
3rd Hugo Boss (Alex Thomson) finish time 14:26:36
4th Artemis Ocean Racing (Dee Caffari) 14:38:32

Winning charity: Foundation MVE
The Foundation Movement for Childrens Village Foundation (MVE) is a major player in child protection in France. It protects children at risk by hosting in his Children's Villages and Households, children and adolescents entrusted by the courts. Foundation Movement for Children's Villages was founded in 1958 by Suzanne Masson. It was state-approved in 2006.

Artemis Challenge website
Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week website