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KEITH MCCULLAGH, the controversial former chairman of British Biotech who is currently sailing in the Admiral's Cup, yesterday accidentally rammed the yacht belonging to the chief executive officer of one of America's biggest companies, United Technologies.

George David's $1m yacht Idler took such a thump from Mr McCullagh's boat Venture99 that it is out of the final race, a 400-mile leg between Cowes and the Wolf Rock off the Cornish coast, which starts today.

Mr McCullagh left the Cambridge-based drugs developer British Biotech last autumn. The company was recently criticised by the London Stock Exchange for making misleading statements about the progress of drug trials.

Mr David, whose company owns Pratt & Whitney, the jet engine maker, the Sikorsky helicopter company and Otis Lifts, has already been in the wars. The Cup had only just started last Wednesday when Idler hit the rocks. Frantic repairs were done over the weekend to ready it for the next race on Monday.

As Mr David contemplated his boat back in the repair yard yesterday, his chastened skipper Kenny Read commented: "I think you might see George going back to driving his own boat and racing it in his own way, having experienced the professional game."

Mr Read admitted that he had rarely seen so many crashes and collisions since his college days.

TWO OTHER businessmen involved in the Admiral's Cup, although not actually at sea, are Mark Hammersley and Peter Harrison. Mr Hammersley is sponsoring the 40-foot boat used by the British Admiral's Cup team, which in turn is being sponsored by Mr Harrison.

Mr Hammersley is the former president of Speedo International, the swimwear group, and is now the London boss of the US-owned Nautica group. Mr Harrison meanwhile has just trousered pounds 100m from selling half of his Chernikeef computer network company. So will Mr Hammersley actually be hauling on a rope himself? Heaven forbid.

"But I do enjoy sailing a dinghy when I am in warmer climates on holiday," he says.

KEITH OATES has swapped selling Y-fronts and prawn sandwiches for the world of culture and sport. The recently departed executive deputy chairman of Marks & Spencer has been appointed the first chairman of a new watchdog - the Quality, Efficiency and Standards Team (Quest) - by Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

The idea is that Quest, consisting of an advisory board of four members drawn from business, finance, the arts and the voluntary sector, will ensure all bodies sponsored by the Ministry of Culture are well-run.

I HAVE JUST been sent a review copy of Shakespeare on Management by Paul Corrigan, to be published by Kogan Page later this year. And it's as riveting a read as I had hoped. For Richard III, Shakes-peare's grisliest villain, is held up as a key example to managers.

"This is the most straightforward lesson Shakespeare teaches," writes Mr Corrigan, a former management consultant. "You know that if you have lied and cheated your way to the top, others can lie and cheat their way to the top, and there is nothing you can do or say about it."

An ideal stocking filler for your more successful friends.