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Cowes Week faces cutbacks without new sponsor

Cowes Week faces cutbacks without new sponsor

Cowes Week organisers may have to increase entry fees and scrap the traditional fireworks display if talks with potential sponsors do not bear fruit before the regatta starts in August.

The two-year campaign to find a title sponsor to replace Skandia has proved unsuccessful, but while the world's oldest regatta will go ahead in 2009 without a sponsor, the £1.6 million shortfall in funds puts pressure on the organisers.

They have been in ongoing negotiations with four companies to find alternative revenue and cut costs. Entry fees for the 1,000 boats, which are charged anything from £150 to £1,600 to take part, are likely to go up, said Stuart Quarrie, chief executive officer of Cowes Week Limited.

"We have been having long-term discussions with four companies and we are hoping for a decision in the near future but if there is no title sponsor, we have three options open to us including using our reserves, cutting costs and putting up entry fees," he said.

"But even if the recession turns into a 1930s-type depression, there will still be a Cowes Week regatta because there will always be a certain amount of sponsorship available, though not a huge amount. It would be a very different Cowes Week to the one we had in 2008, but it would still go ahead."

The 183-year-old regatta, which attracts more than 8,000 competitors plus around 75,000 visitors for the Friday night fireworks, flourished during its 14-year relationship with Skandia, with major improvements on and off the water.

But the Southampton-based financial services company gave notice in 2007 that the agreement would end 12 months later. Click here for the full story.

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