Britons winded by conditions

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The Independent Online
A routine random test for drugs at the end of a frustrating day was something that Britain's reigning champions, John Merricks and Ian Walker, could have done without at the 470 Europeans off Hayling Island yesterday.

Finishing 23rd and 13th saw them slip from third overall to fourth in conditions where the only thing they seemed able to rely on was that, if they took a decision, it would be the wrong one. Fortunately, others were having the same problem.

What they cannot ignore is that the leaders, Dimitri Berezkin and Evgeny Burmatnov, of Russia, and the world ranked No 1s, Andreas Kosmatopoulos and Kostas Trigonis, of Greece, have pulled away at the top. The Martians, as they are known because of their sponsorship by Mars, have some work to do over the last seven races.

"It was very tricky out there for everybody," Jim Saltonstall, the Olympic coach, said, describing wind conditions which erratically switched in direction from north-west to south and varied in strength. It was enough to cause the abandonment and re-running of the second race of the day.

"Also, there were a few times when we didn't cash in on some good chances," Saltonstall said. He then went to work on some personal counselling for Bethan Raggatt and Sue Carr. Despite Carr having to helm the first leg of the second race, as Raggatt fixed an insecure knot in the rope controlling the mainsail, Saltonstall said they can find the speed "but do daft things sometimes". However, they improved one place to seventh overall.

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