Jaguar goes head to head with BMW in Cowes

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The Independent Online

Jaguar goes head to head with BMW, the Extreme 40 screamers stage the second in their European tour, an international line-up of Open 60s will contest a round the Isle of Wight sprint, and nearly 900 boats in 26 classes will race the Solent's tricky waters ever day.

Who needs sponsors? The 184-year old Cowes Week remains Europe's top regatta and its director, Stuart Quarrie says he needs a title sponsor, But he has seen entries rebound as has demand for accommodation says the woman with her finger on the pulse, Sarah Marshall.

Cowes Week has left behind its role as part of 'the season' but it has bucked a trend which has seen fleets at other international regattas in places like Cork, Key West and many in Italy and Spain drop alarmingly.

One venerable old class, the X One Design, already gearing up for its centenary next year has the biggest turnout in 25 years with 88.

Quarrie has five "serious" potential new sponsors on his invite list. "The difference is that people now think they know where they are going, whereas 18 months to two years ago no-one could predict even the next six months," he says.

He also welcomes the choice of the three outside events to use Cowes Week as a platform. The America's Cup holder, BMW Oracle has brought the 159-year old trophy to show off as it squares up against Britain's Team Origin, wearing Jaguar branding, in up to nine short races and a re-enactment of the 1851 race round the Isle of Wight. Garrard has presented a new 1851 Cup.

The Extreme 40 catamarans should see the dominance of the two boats from Oman again challenged by Yann Guichard in the Rothschild boat, as earlier in Sete.

And Artemis, the Scottish fund management house, not the Swedish America's cup team, sees continuity in its sailing programme with its Open 60 race around the Isle of Wight while keeping an eye on Jonny Malbon carrying its colours in the Figaro singlehanded series.