Brady joins chase with leading bunch

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The top seeds at the opening grand prix of the world match racing at Lymington this week should, in theory, have no trouble in filling the final placings, writes Stuart Alexander.

However, all are looking over their shoulders at yet another bright new talent from a sailing star factory in New Zealand that is at least as prolific as the Welsh production line of outstanding rugby stand-offs.

Gavin Brady, at 22, became in March the youngest man to win the Congressional Cup in Los Angeles, admittedly in not the strongest of fields but including four of the other 15 competitors at Lymington.

"I rate him very highly," said Peter Gilmour, the world No 2, now signed again for the Japanese in the 2000 America's Cup. "I watched him in Perth in January and he reminded me of me. He's feisty, very strong when he's in control, and capable of doing some dumb things every now and again. Not bad."

"He sailed with me for three years," said Chris Law, Britain's No 12- ranked globetrotter, who now has a settled team with Neal McDonald, Andy Hemmings and James Stagg. "He started with me when I picked him off the dock when he was 17. Now he is potentially a world champion."

Stuart Childerley, Britain's world No 15, believes this year's $25,000 (pounds 17,000) Lymington Cup, the 22nd, is wide open, partly because of unfamiliarity with the First Class 8s in which the 16 skippers and crews will be conducting their opening skirmishes in the Solent this morning.

However, as his own round-robin group of eight contains Ed Baird (the world No 1), Bertrand Pace (4), the defending champion Thierry Peponnet (7) and Law, Childerley will have his work cut out to reach the quarter- finals on Thursday.

Gilmour heads the other reel in which Russell Coutts, New Zealand's America's Cup winning skipper, Olympic gold medallist and former long-term tenant of the No1 match racing position, continues his comeback.