SAILINGEIGHT of the most beautiful Big Class yachts in the world have been invited to grace the shores of The Solent this summer.
The Royal Yacht Squadron (RYS) has invited the owners of Altair, Elena, Lulworth, Mariquita, Cambria, Eleonora, Mariette and Moonbeam IV to race in the second edition of the Westward Cup regatta, taking place between June 11 and 16.
Speaking on behalf of the RYS, David Aisher, rear commodore yachting, said: "The Westward Cup is a unique event for these exquisite racing yachts.
"Apart from the competitive and challenging racing opportunities the Solent and adjacent waters can provide, there is the relaxing and welcoming atmosphere of Cowes and the many clubs here, the true 'home of yachting’ to many of these yachts.
"The RYS will provide a base for the owners and their guests, and, by staging the Westward Cup in Cowes, will also be providing the devotees of Big Class yachting a spectacle rarely seen in Solent waters."
Run in association with the New York Yacht Club and the Yacht Club de Monaco with the RYS as the organising authority, the Westward Cup was first held in July 2010 and was a tremendous success.
Meanwhile, the sight of 12-metre, eight-metre and super yachts will not be the only eye-catching events at the RYS, in this British Olympic year.
The RS Elite National Championships will round up this year’s RYS summer programme when the class descends on the home of yachting, from August 30 to September 2, to compete for their major annual title.
One-design RS Elites always deliver adrenalin-pumping races at their championships and this year promises to be no exception.
A record fleet looks certain to take to The Solent with a strong contingent from Ireland and top Elite sailors, including defending 2011 champion Jono Brown and 2010 victor Crauford McKeon.
RYS yachting secretary, Chris Mason, himself no stranger to top level sailboat racing, said: "The regatta will come at the end of a very busy season for us, and will be a fitting finish to what is going to be a spectacular year at RYS.
"With strong fleets of RS Elites on the south coast, we hope this regatta will spark a continued development of the Cowes fleet."
The RS Elite Class Association has secured headline sponsorship for the championships from Wight Vodka.