British fail to fashion a victory over Prada

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Britain's rapidly developing America's Cup challenge squad failed to round off a spectacular Jubilee Regatta week here by finishing just six seconds behind the challengers of 2000, Italy's Prada.

Skipper Ian Walker was bitterly disappointed that they had failed to hold on to a comfortable lead when a new spinnaker blew and replacing it allowed the Italians through to win the overall trophy.

Andy Beadsworth, skipper of the second British boat, said that, despite the eventual result, the British had clearly overshadowed the Italians. Walker said that lessons would be learned but emphasised: "I am a professional and I want to win." They may have the chance to renew hostilities in Auckland next March.

The entire British squad flies to New Zealand at the end of September and expects to be sailing its pair of 2000 generation boats through the southern hemisphere summer. Here on Saturday they backed the idea of a "Road to the America's Cup" regatta in March and the Prada skipper, Francesco de Angelis, said his team would be keen to join in.

The proposal was also backed by the defending Team New Zealand sailing boss, Tom Schnackenberg, and will be put to the other eight challengers, all of whom will be training on the Hauraki Gulf.

The Louis Vuitton Cup elimination trials begin in October, 2002, with the timing and format being hammered out at a challenger meeting in Southampton today.

The Etchells World Championship kicks off in Lymington today with over 60 boats lining up for the six-race series in Christchurch Bay.