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The Independent Online
Skandia Cowes Week, the colourful festival of sailing, will be a busier occasion this year when the Admiral's Cup, the world championship of offshore racing, will also be held, culminating in the 605-mile Fastnet Race, which set out from Cowes on the final Saturday. A full programme of yacht racing and entertainment will be held from 29 July to 5 August.

Some 900 yachts are expected to enter the six handicapped classes, 20 one-design classes and one non-rated class, ensuring plenty of excellent spectating. The daily programme involves a race for each class at five- minute intervals from the start line in front of the Royal Yacht Squadron, beginning at 10.30am. Again, this year the large number of Etchells and XODs will provide a spectacular sight when racing starts. Deep water comes right to the shore, so it is possible to view at close quarters.

Other vantage points to the west of Cowes include The Green and the promenade towards Gurnard. There are two finishing lines to avoid congestion. The promenade at East Cowes affords views of the one-design classes, like the XODs, Dragons and Flying Fifteens, as they race home. Yachting World, the sailing monthly, are producing the official spectator guide, Skandia Cowes Week 95, which will help to distinguish between the various classes. The guide to the entire week's sailing and entertainment will be available as a supplement with the August issue, available in the shops from 13 July, priced pounds 2.50.

The Isle of Wight Council, the local authority, also organises several entertainments to complement the sailing. There will be functions every night in addition to the Cowes Week Ball at the local Northwood House on 2 August. The fireworks display, held off west Cowes, is on 4 August. The Isle of Wight tourism office, in Newport, provides a general accommodation guide and Cowes Tourist Information Centre can assist with all types of accommodation in the immediate area, though this is limited and heavily booked during Cowes Week. An alternative to consider would be to stay in the Southampton area and take the regular Red Funnel fast passenger service to Cowes, which takes 20 minutes.

Skandia Cowes Week, 29 July to 5 August.

For further information, contact:

Cowes Combined Clubs Committee, 18 Bath Road, Cowes, Isle of Wight PO31 7QN (Tel: 01983 295744).

Isle of Wight Council, 5 Lind Street, Ryde, Isle of Wight PO33 2NL (Tel: 01983 821000).

Isle of Wight Tourism, Quay House, Town Quay, Newport, Isle of Wight PO30 2EF (Tel: 01983 524343).

Cowes Tourist Information Centre, The Arcade, Fountain Quay, Cowes, Isle of Wight PO31 3AR (Tel: 01983 291914).

Ferries: Wightlink: car ferry, Portsmouth to Fishbourne and Lymington to Yarmouth; catamaran, Portsmouth to Ryde (Tel: 01705 827744; 01983 562560). Red Funnel: car ferry, Southampton to East Cowes; hydrofoil, Southampton to West Cowes (Tel: 01703 330333).

Details of forthcoming events with information on tickets and venues should be sent to: The Sports Desk, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Fax: 0171 293 2894.

Compiled by Paul Maher

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