Dickson leads Irish clean sweep as visitors master tricky airs

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The Independent Online

The visitors were enjoying some success in the sunshine of the Rover Scottish Series on Loch Fyne yesterday in the sort of frustratingly changeable conditions that have winners laughing in delight but losers spitting tacks.

If there was a wind direction at all it was south-easterly, but the loch was plagued with empty wind holes, turning good positions upside down and causing the fleet to bunch at the turning marks.

The Irish took the first three places in the big-boat Class 0, Roy Dickson's Cracklin' Rosie beating Colm Barrington's Surfin' Shoes and Roy Hamilton's Commanche Raider.

As the front-running Bashford Howison 36s in Class 1 were made to struggle, Christian Stimpson took Blaze of Glory, his Reflex 28, to a well-deserved trophy ahead of Peter Fairley's Pinnochio and regular visitor Gwilym Evans, who took third with Corwynt Cymru, steered by 470 helmsman Nigel Biggs.

Of the BH 36s, Chris Bonar's Bateleur did best in ninth place, with Geoff Howison's Local Hero 13th and Saturday's winner, Keith Lawrence's Playback, in 15th.

Lawrence's tactician, Andy Hemmings, who flies to Italy today to prepare with John Merricks and Ian Walker for the Mumm 36 World Championships, said: "It was a real lottery. You could see wind on other parts of the water, but it just seemed to hang there. There was nothing you could do."

It was another good day for Steve Goacher in the Sonata 24, Eric the Boat. A remarkable 12-hour sail from Gourock in the feeder race saw him beat 152 boats - nearly all of them bigger and some over twice as long - over the finish line. Yesterday he was first again, having been second on Saturday, and he is lining up nicely to repeat his success as series winner in 1993.

David Hall also clocked up a second win in a reduced Melges 24 class. Alan Milton could not repeat his win on Saturday in the Sigma 33s as Allan Hogg led home what is, at 33 boats, the biggest fleet in the regatta.

A strong showing by the British Olympic squad at the Spa regatta in Medemblik, the Netherlands was crowned by an impressive win in the Europe single- hander by Scotland's Shirley Robertson. She had seven firsts, a second and two thirds in 12 starts, winning with a race to spare. Denmark's Kristine Roug, who won a gold medal at the Olympics, was a distant second.

Both Andy Beadsworth, in the Soling, and Ben Ainslie, in the Laser, were fourth. Beadsworth lost to the 1992 gold medallist, Jesper Bank of Denmark, in the semi-final. Bank beat the 1996 silver medallist, Georgi Shaiduko of Russia, in the final.

Ainslie had been close to the top three, but 20th place in the final race pushed him down as his arch-rival Robert Schiedt of Brazil won.

John Derbyshire, the Olympic coach, was also heartened by the second place showing of Andy and Ian Budgen in the new Olympic class, the 49er.

Mitch Booth and Adam Beashel of Australia finally edged out Roland Gaebler and Rene Schwall of Germany in the Tornado catamaran.

At Portsmouth, Lawrie Smith moved three points clear of Russell Peters at the end of the second day of the Ultra 30 grand prix.