Skandia doubles the number of free sailing lessons available for visitors to this year's Cowes week

Long term savings group, Skandia – title sponsors of the famous Cowes regatta on the Isle of Wight – has announced it is doubling the number of free sailing lessons available for visitors to this year’s event (29 July-5 August 2006).

Around 800 people will be taught how to tack, gybe and take the helm during the eight days of the event, which involves around 8,500 sailors racing on over 1,000 boats.

Called ‘Try Sailing’, the initiative was launched in 2005 and was an instant sell-out, with people aged eight to 80 able to sign up for a free hour-long lesson.

“Around 100,000 people come to Skandia Cowes Week to watch the racing and we want to give some of those who have perhaps never tried sailing a taste of what it’s like,” says Tim Sewell, Skandia’s sponsorship manager. “Last year, we sold out within half an hour of opening the booking office each day so we’ve invested more this year to extend the scheme to allow twice as many people to take part.”

The ‘Try Sailing’ lessons are run by the United Kingdom Sailing Academy (UKSA). Each day bookings can be made at the Skandia Try Sailing booking office on the Parade at Cowes. Lessons run from 0930 to 1730.

Anyone over eight years old will qualify for the sessions and those who sign up will be taken by RIB from Cowes Parade Landing to the designated teaching area. This is likely to vary depending on the wind and tide conditions each day.

Each session will last an hour and will involve the UKSA instructors in four Colgate Keelboats enabling up to 20 people per hour to get a taste of what it’s like to sail. On Thursday 3 August – the Event’s first ever Ladies Day – two of the boats will have female instructors and lessons in these boats will be for women only.

The lessons are completely free but donations to the Event’s official charity, the Ellen MacArthur Trust, will be welcomed.
Everyone who signs up for a lesson will be entered into a prize draw, with the winner receiving a special Henri-Lloyd goodie bag.