Volvo Sailing Speed Challenge - 'Fantastic 4' showdown set for Cowes

Come Monday 5th August, three of sailing’s most talented, competitive, fun personalities, together with a kitesurfing world record breaker, will put their speed to the test and go head to head in the ‘Volvo Sailing Speed Challenge’, a never-before-seen charity showdown held in the Solent during Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week.


The ‘fantastic four’ challengers; 2008 Olympic Laser gold medallist, Paul Goodison - testing his speed onboard a foiling Moth, double Olympic windsurfing medallist, Nick Dempsey, Alex Thomson, who in January became onlythe third Briton to achieve a podium finish at round-the-world yacht race, the ‘Vendee Globe’and extreme kitesurfer, Sam Lutman-Pauc, who broke the world record kitesurfing across the English Channel last October, will each be vying to cross the Royal Yacht Squadron finish line first, to claim £1,000 in prize money for a charity of their choice.

Ahead of the race you can cast a free vote on who you think has the fastest mode of sail and if guessed correctly will automatically be nominated into a prize draw to win an exclusive ‘four ball’ at Wentworth Club, one of the most prestigious UK golf courses.

The Vendee Globe is a round-the-world single-handed yacht race, sailed non-stop and without assistance.
'I'm really excited about the upcoming race in Cowes. It will be great to race against the three guys as nobody really knows who will win! I have only sailed my Moth in Weymouth Harbour so I'm a little apprehensive about the waves off the Green, but it will be great fun and all for a good cause' commented Paul, who along with Nick will be will racing for the ‘Andrew Simpson Memorial Fund’, set up in memory of fellow Team GB sailor, Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson.

Alex, known for his love of stunts from wakeboarding off the back of ‘Hugo Boss’, to his infamous ‘keel walk’ will be entering for ‘Sported’, the leading London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games legacy charity set up by Sir Keith Mills and kitesurfer Sam is racing for ‘Toe in the Water’ - the official Cowes Week charity that uses competitive sailing to re-inspire profoundly and traumatically injured servicemen and women to see beyond their injuries.

'I am looking forward to the Volvo Sailing Speed Challenge. I think it is going to be about 10 minutes of a lot of fun. I have no idea who will win between us and even though I have a strong competitive streak, I am actually just looking forward to seeing what happens. At the end of the day it is all for charity so no matter what the outcome, it will be a good result.' Alex commented.

Pictures of the Volvo RS-X windsurfer Nick Dempsey training in Weymouth, UK Credit: Lloyd Images
The highly charged challenge will see the Team Volvo sailors in hot pursuit of each other around a‘reaching’ course. Statistically, the two boards are expected to be the quickest; windsurfing held the world record for fastest sailing speed for years, with the top speed recorded at 49.05 (knots) over 500 meters, but was recently passed by kiting with 55.65 (knots). The Moth, a fast hydrofoil dinghy, can reach up to 31.1 (knots) and the IMOCA 60 record currently sits at 22.72 (knots). Paul gives his thoughts on the competitors and their secret weapons

Before the showdown the competitors will join double Olympic gold medallist, Shirley Robertson, on stage on Cowes Parade for pre-race banter. The contest then kicks off from the Green at 17.00 with live footage streamed on all three event screens located on Cowes Parade, Cowes Yacht Haven and Shepards Wharf Marina, there will also be live commentary from Steve Ancsell and Shirley on Cowes Radio.

All four competitors are supported in their everyday sporting exploits by Volvo Car UK, and are ‘Team Volvo’ ambassadors. Volvo is also the official vehicle supplier to Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week and will have a presence, showcasing their latest model range, in Cowes Yacht Haven all week. For those unable to make it along to the annual sailing regatta you can watch the race live at 17.00 BST.