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Correspondent&#39s week

Having shipped my gear over to the Isle of Wight on Friday, I pitch up at 8am for my first day on duty at Skandia Life Cowes Week.

We kick off by hosting a press briefing for Emma Richards, who is sailing around the world single-handed.

Then it is off to another press briefing at 9.30am, where we are told to expect no wind for the yacht racing that day.

I make my way out to our press hospitality yacht in midSolent on a fast inflatable boat and arrive aboard in true James Bond style to entertain various national and freelance journalists. The sun is shining, the champagne flows and all is well with the world.

I attend the Royal London Yacht Club ball in the evening with Messrs Roberts, Oszmann and new boy Jamie MacLeod. A great night and I am in awe at the size of Jamie&#39s sporran.

I make a mental note to tell Angus Duncan to ditch his tartan trews once and for all. I have a relatively early night, given that there is a whole week to get through.

Day two dawns with light winds but at least it is hot and sunny which will please the corporate hospitality guests. Attend 9.30am press briefing, then help entertain 60 local IFAs before their lunch at the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club.

Winners of various radio and press competitions arrive for a photo call before going off for their day out on a motor cruiser. Try to catch up with some email before the daily race prize-giving at 6.30pm.

Ian Percy, one of the Olympic gold medallists, presents the prizes and all goes smoothly apart from a slight hitch with the microphone. Dash off to change for a cocktail party which is held on the Royal Yacht Squadron lawn.

Monday is busy entertaining another 60 local IFAs and 100 from our Redhill, St Albans and Glasgow regions. They enjoy getting out of the office to escape the stockmarket doom and gloom and a change of scenery.

Cowes Week Radio puts out its daily live broadcast from the Skandia marquee and I do a slot about our expectations for the week and how the event matches our corporate values of passion, courage, creativity, commitment and contribution.

On Tuesday, another big group of IFAs descend, this time from Bristol and Birmingham. The Mumm Champagne PR man asks if he can put a couple of models on board one of our hospitality boats for some press shots. Our Birmingham regional director seems quite keen on this and several IFAs are seen dashing down below to pull on their Skandia polo shirts to be photographed with the girls.

An Aussie called Doug Jarvis flies in to check out the event and trade tips on the regatta he runs in Geelong, Australia. We put him straight to work, both with the press and cooking our team barbecue that night. In true Aussie fashion, he insists that we do not send his wife photos of him washing up.

On Wednesday, I feel like I have been here a month. More radio and TV interviews for the home team. The broadcast media are more interested than ever, with CNN and Sky pitching into the fray.

Ben Ainslie takes over prizegiving duties and Ellen McArthur turns up, much to the delight of the assembled press. I take a turn at bouncing at the door of the marquee – word has spread about the quality of the champagne and canapes.

Thursday and Friday pass in a blur, with more IFAs from up North arriving. Heavy rain and continued light winds force us to take up indoor land yacht racing in the marquee, with Meridian and BBC South turning up to film and participate.

I do a TV interview for the BBC which I hope my daughters will watch so they can remember who mummy is. I am extremely impressed by the sheer hard work and commitment of my team which has managed to combine running this event with getting married and having babies.

We send for our deserving other halves to come and watch the impressive firework display from the water.

An interview with Radio Solent completes my week and I stagger home, tired but satisfied that Skandia Life Cowes Week 2002 has been tremendously successful and glad that we have signed up for another three years.

Jo Gilbey is head of market communications at Skandia


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