England falter in patchy winds

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The Independent Online

England were lagging behind both Commonwealth and Channel Islands teams last night after the opening pair of races in the Rolex Commodores' Cup.

England were lagging behind both Commonwealth and Channel Islands teams last night after the opening pair of races in the Rolex Commodores' Cup.

On a day when the racing was turned into something of a lottery by patchy wind conditions, the only boat to show real form was the new 35-footer Roaring Meg, being campaigned for a European team by Tim Dixon and Jon Manley. But her two wins were not enough to lift the team any higher than sixth out of the seven. And a first and a second from Kevin Sproul in the Farr 40 McWolf still left the Scotland team in fourth overall.

While the Commodores' Cup is embracing the future - and fighting a political corner against other countries in continental Europe - by adopting a new Anglo-French handicapping system, IRM, there was a distinctly retrospective feel to the structure of the first race.

Long legs upwind and down gave crews little opportunity to demonstrate their athleticism or boat-handling abilities. Apart from that, there was more wind pressure on one side of the course than the other, and given the difficult conditions, there was little to counter a low boredom threshold. So slow was the strung-out procession that one boat, France's Bespoke, sailed by Steph Merry, ran out of time.

The attempt to start the second race was quickly abandoned as a new wind from a new direction made a nonsense of the track layout. But the second try was successful as Tony de Mulder, winner in Victric 5 of the Britannia Cup in Cowes Week, joined the first-place line-up. Today there are two more inshores, theseries moving offshore tomorrow and returning to the Solent for four more inshore tests.

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