Blind helm, Lucy Hodges MBE, steers aql into their first year as Communications Sponsor of Cowes Week
Leading communications provider aql welcomed Lucy Hodges MBE as Helm during their first term as official communications provider of the iconic British sporting event Cowes Week.
The historic event, dating back to 1826, welcomes 100,000 visitors a year and is one of the longest running and best-known sailing regattas in the world. Between 800 and 1,000 keelboats and 8,000 sailors are racing in the eight-day event, ranging from high-tech racing machines to classic day boats, split into around 40 different classes – including “Ratatosk”, the aql Hanse 45 yacht.
aql is on site to connect Cowes Week with the digital world through technology solutions, such as text messaging, time synchronisation and wireless communications.
aql CEO Professor Adam Beaumont is a keen sailor and has been a regular at Cowes Week since 1990 and has led a team for the last three Round the Island races – a 50 nautical mile race also starting from Cowes.
Adam said: “We want Cowes Week to remain supported as the historic event which it is. As an environmentally-aware telecoms operator, with a marine communication division, this fits in with our values. There’s nothing comparable to Cowes in terms of fun versus carbon impact – it’s an entirely wind-powered week.
“I’m excited to see how the sponsorship partnership can develop and how we can work with other sponsors to ensure that the event flourishes and reaches a wider cross section of the sailing community, this includes those less able-bodied than us.
“For the last two years, we’ve been lucky enough to have on-board gold medallist blind sailor Lucy Hodges as part of our team. Not only did we finish 17th out of 1400 boats in the last Round the Island, but also Lucy helmed the race for “Ladies Day” – including a very busy start. Lucy is an inspiration – helming a race start at Cowes is hard for a sighted person and we can all learn from her courage.”
Gold Medallist Lucy Hodges MBE added: “It’s meant so much to be involved with aql, giving myself and Blind Sailing GB the opportunities to connect with people I’d not have gained without Adam and his crew.
“aql is about communication and technology and their trailblazing work is a huge coup for the Regatta. In particular the impacts this can have on all the communities and people of all abilities that come together for Cowes Week."
Chairman of the Isle of Wight Council, Lora Peacey-Wilcox, commented: “We are delighted to welcome aql to the island and in particular their sponsorship of Lendy Cowes Week. Adam brings a unique blend of inclusion and incredible vision for the Regatta and we can’t wait to see what the future for aql and Cowes Week holds."
GBR Blind Sailing
GBR Blind Sailing is a registered charity, which provides sailing for blind and partially-sighted people. It organises regular training sessions with coaching and help to enable novices to learn to sail. The charity also coaches the more advanced to enable them to compete at both national and international events. The charity use lots of different and excellent sailing schools, clubs and organisations all over the UK.