Volvo Sailing Speed Challenge at Cowes 2013

DrivingTalk watches the Volvo Speed Sailing Challenge 2013

By Tim Kendall | 6th August 2013

DrivingTalk at the Volvo Speed Sailing Challenge 2013

Size matters, when it comes to sailing boats.

Why waffle about sailing on a car blog? because it’s Cowes week – mecca for yachtie sorts – and Volvo, long-standing sponsors of British sailing, organised a ‘Sailing Speed Challenge’ – a charity showdown between four of sailing’s biggest names aboard some disparate craft. Not my usual fare, but DrivingTalk loves anything with a sail, so I jumped at the opportunity to go and bob about for a bit on a RIB and soak up the action at Cowes Week.

Paul Goodison Hydrofoil Moth

Paul Goodison aboard hydrofoil dinghy ‘Moth’

What’s the Volvo Speed Sailing Challenge then?

Think Top Gear-style race, but on water, without any engines. Or Compo, Clegg and the other one hamming it up with a staged accident.

The Volvo Speed Sailing event, which took place during Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week 2013, saw double Olympic Windsurfing medallist Nick Dempsey pit his skills against Vendée Globe podium finisher, Alex Thomson on board the spectacular Open 60 ‘Hugo Boss’, whilst Olympic sailing Gold medallist Paul Goodison battled for honours in an outlandish ‘Moth’ hydrofoil dinghy. In amongst them was extreme kite-surfer Sam Lutman-Pauc, the chap who scooped the world record for kite surfing across the English Channel last year. Serious contenders then.

Hugo Boss Open 60 Alex Thompson

David and Goliath. Alex Thomson cruised home for the win aboard Hugo Boss Open 60

The point of it all? A bit of fun and something to amuse hordes of spectators aboard their gin palaces. And the winner grabbed £1,000 for charity.

Following a delay whilst the wind at Cowes took a raincheck, the race got underway and solo round-the-world yachtsman Alex Thompson made the best use of the modest 10-15 knot breeze. With plenty of sail out Thomson had Hugo Boss nicely heeled over in a passable impression of an eighties aftershave ad, but the light, flukey winds and strong tide saw Nick Dempsey and Paul Goodison lose ground to Hugo Boss as they had to double-tack to reach the marker on their second lap.

David and Goliath….

Ultimately the light winds played into the hands of challenge underdog Alex Thomson, who brought Hugo Boss over the line first, with Nick Dempsey’s windsurfer coming in second and Paul Goodison coaxing the precarious Moth home in third place. Kite-surfer Sam Lutman-Pauc didn’t have the best day at the office thanks to the wind and tide conditions.

Volvo Cowes1

Vendée Globe veteran Alex Thomson: “That was great fun! Paul Goodison is officially a lunatic on the racecourse, was not giving even an inch of any boat.  I didn’t expect to win but really I owe it to the two guys onboard with me, grinding away, so they can take all the glory not me. But, it was great to win the £1,000 prize money for Sported, looking forward to handing it over to them”

Alex donated the £1,000 prize to ‘Sported’ – the UK’s leading sporting legacy charity of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.


Photos: © Mark Lloyd Photography

See more about Volvo Sailing here.

DrivingTalk drove down to Cowes in a Volvo XC60 T6 AWD R-Design – full writeup to follow shortly!

By Tim Kendall
6th August 2013

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