Cowes Week - First year for Cowes-based youth charity, UKSA

2014 was the first year for Cowes-based youth charity, UKSA, as the official charity of Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week. It was a week full of royalty, celebrities, racing, sending bosses 100ft up the mast of a yacht as well as plenty of activities for the public to get involved with.

UKSA set a fundraising target of £35,000 – enough to give every Year 6 child on the Isle of Wight a session on the water with them at their Cowes campus. The total raised so far stands at almost £33,000 and rising with monies still coming in.

During the week the charity took around 450 people out on keelboats to ‘Try Sailing’ and ran huge gutters full of water for regatta visitors to try miniature ‘gutterboat’ racing. Title sponsor, Aberdeen Asset Management, provided support for the charity by facilitating the design of an official charity t-shirt by fashion icon Amanda Wakeley (funded by the event’s family of sponsors) as well as by donating £2 each time a boat racing in the regatta passed the Aberdeen Alpha mark.

UKSA also sent 15 'bosses' up the mast, hoisting them 100ft up on their 65ft Farr yacht in a fundraising spectacle which was successful in encouraging many generous donations. Among those to scale the dizzy heights were Nick Gill, Founder of the regatta’s clothing partner Gill Marine, and Burr Taylor, of Sturge Taylor, the leaders in luxury yacht insurance.

Several celebrity skippers helped the charity reach the national press. Pippa Middleton joined UKSA’s young ambassadors for some sailing, accompanied by double Olympic gold-medallist Shirley Robertson. The charity’s Royal Patron HRH The Princess Royal raced her husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence on UKSA’s identical Farr 65s on another day - with the princess victorious at the helm.

Also on board over the course of the week were UKSA’s ambassador, Paralympic gold-medal winning sailor Helena Lucas, as well as the Olympic silver-medal winning pentathlete Heather Fell, Olympic bronze-medallist hockey player Alex Danson and Bestival curator and well-known DJ Rob Da Bank. In addition, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh met UKSA’s young ambassadors during his visit to the regatta.

Heather Fell said: 'I was flattered to be asked to sail with UKSA. It’s a really cool charity to be able to support. I am such a believer in sport generally being a massive help to young people, especially outdoor sport, so sailing is just perfect. The more young people we can give the opportunity to sail to, the better, as it is a sport you can do at any level.'

Alex Danson sailed with UKSA fresh from winning a silver medal in the Commonwealth Games. She said: 'I think UKSA is a wonderful charity and my passion is young people too so I’m delighted to be involved.'

UKSA’s chief executive Richard Thornton said: 'This has been an incredible Cowes Week for UKSA. We made a real impact with the community and were able to spread the message that UKSA is a youth charity that does real good and achieves tremendous results. We do this by being inspirational, by getting young people out on the water and into a different frame of mind, by showing them their potential and helping them explore routes they have never previously been exposed to.

'The highlight of Cowes Week for me was the visit of HRH The Princess Royal and her husband. Her support as Patron of UKSA is vital and to join us for a whole day is a very special commitment. We were very honoured to welcome her and all the other ambassadors and high-profile guests during our very special week.'

Find out more at UKSA.