Sport on the Internet

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The Independent Online
COWES WEEK, which starts on Saturday, can look chaotic to newcomers to sailing (old hands too). One way of getting a sense of perspective ahead of time is to check out the Web sites.

The official site is helpful at all sorts of levels, catering for those who don't know where the Isle of Wight is through to sailors with its online entry and payment facility for certain classes. The news pages are providing solid coverage in the run-up to the regatta and will get much busier once sailing gets underway. It is aiming to post news and pictures live from the official news centre. An illustrated review of last year's event is also online, as a taster for what can be expected

Pages for results, weather and racing are not yet live, but will be the places to go for an up-to-date results service that will be more in-depth than those offered by the general sports site that carry any of the results.

Online forums have been up and running on-site with messages dating back to mid-July. They provide useful insights into nautical matters such as the relative merits, tidally speaking, of Cowes Week and Cork Week. Organisational issues too. One Sunfast 36 boat is advertising for a skipper to replace the one they had lined up who has managed to get stuck in Saudi.

Worryingly, one American entrant who is also planning on taking part in the Fastnet race that starts at the end of Cowes Week, was asking advice about water temperature and weather so he could bring the right gear. Two weeks before race time seems to be cutting it a bit fine for fundamental questions like that. However, there was no shortage of advice, so perhaps sailors have a relaxed attitude to preparation.

There is more to Cowes than racing. The most contributed-to discussion thread on the official site WebTalk section last week was about the fireworks display and why it is held on the penultimate night of the event instead of being used as its crowning glory. Strong opinions, if not consensus, abounded.

The official site has the low-down on other off-water activities squirrelled away under its venue tab. Boney M and karaoke are promised - which could explain why so many put such store in the fireworks display.

More social aspects are covered by Cowes Isle Of Wight - a site for general info about Cowes, including the fireworks, maps, a brief history of the Royal Yacht Squadron and descriptions of spectator hot-spots such as The Green - and Cowes.Week.co.uk which has an exhaustive and easy-to-use review of all the pubs in Cowes.

Taking a wider focus is the International Sailing Federation Website. Its breaking news service is comprehensive and unsurpassed. It is a site for serious sailing enthusiasts whether they are following regattas or other forms of racing. There are links to major competitions world-wide (including Cowes and the Olympics), match race rankings and background information about sailing including online manuals and rulebooks.

Site Addresses

Skandia Life Cowes Week Official Site

http://www.cowesweek.co.uk/

Cowes Isle Of Wight

http://www.wightonline.co.uk/cowes/

Cowes.Week.co.uk

http://www.cowes-week.co.uk/

International Sailing Federation

http://www.sailing.org/

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