The Artemis Challenge at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week has long attracted big name stars for many years. And with the 2015 Rugby World Cup fast approaching, Zara Phillips will be joining rugby stars from England, Scotland and France to take up the challenge to claim a £10,000 prize by winning the annual charity race around the Isle of Wight.
Zara and her husband, former England captain Mike Tindall, will be on board Artemis Ocean Racing and will be hoping to claim line honours ahead of Scottish rugby hero Gavin Hastings and French prop Sylvain Marconnet. Hastings will be racing with the all-female Team SCA, who recently circumnavigated the globe in the Volvo Ocean Race, whilst Marconnet will be joining the French skipper Paul Meilhat on SMA.
Olympic equestrienne Zara said “Mike and I have enjoyed racing in the Artemis Challenge a number of times and it’s always a lot of fun. With the tension building ahead of the Rugby World Cup and England’s game against France next weekend, it is great to get rugby players from England, Scotland and France to join in. At the end of the day everyone is racing to try and raise money for charity but I know these guys still have a strong competitive spirit so am expecting we’ll have a decent battle on the water!”
The rugby stars have some impressive stats between them, with Marconnet making 84 appearances for France. Full back Gavin Hastings, an ambassador for Aberdeen Asset Management, is a national icon in the sport, where he captained the national team 20 times in 60 appearances and also captained the Lions in 1993. England centre Mike Tindall won the Rugby World Cup with England in 2003 and secured 75 caps in a decorated career retiring as England’s most capped centre.
The race fleet has been growing and will now welcome ten IMOCA 60s, two Volvo 65s and four multihulls with a stellar line up of world class offshore skippers and racers:
IMOCA 60 Fleet (10)
Artemis Ocean Racing/Simon Clay (GBR)
Hugo Boss/Alex Thomson (GBR)
Banque Populaire/Armel Le Cléac’h (FRA)
Groupe Quéguiner/Yann Eliès (FRA)
PRB/Vincent Riou (FRA)
Safran/Morgan Lagravière (FRA)
SMA/Paul Meilhat (FRA)
Initiatives Coeur/Tanguy de la Motte (FRA)
Comme 1 Seul Homme/Eric Bellion (FRA)
Kilcullen Voyager/Enda O’Coineen (IRL)
Volvo Ocean 65s (2)
Dongfeng Race Team/Graham Tourell (GBR)
Team SCA/Carolijn Brouwer (NED)
Musandam-Oman Sail/Sidney Gavignet (FRA)
Concise 10/Ned Collier-Wakefield (GBR)
Phaedo3/Lloyd Thornburg (GBR)
Prince de Bretagne/Lionel Lemonchois (FRA)
Starting on the Royal Yacht Squadron Line on 13 August, the fastest IMOCA 60 to complete the course around the Isle of Wight (weather permitting) will win £7,000 for the charity of their choice, with £2,000 going to the winner of multihulls and £1,000 for the winner of the Volvo Ocean 65 battle.