Green in line for semi-finals

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The Independent Online

Competition for the four semi-final places in the Steinlager Cup hotted up here yesterday as Britain's Andy Green threw down the gauntlet to a quartet of New Zealand contenders with a strong performance, winning five out of six races, while the vast experience of the New Zealander Chris Dickson conjured up the best match of the series so far against Dean Barker.

After a reshuffle of the 16 skippers into two new groups of eight, Green was second with a total score of eight wins and two losses to the star performer so far, the 22-year old Cameron Appleton, on 9-1, while Dickson and Barker shared the lead of the second group, both on 8-2.

"It was a very satisfying day's work," said the 26-year old Green. "After the frustration of what was a lost second day for us yesterday, to come back with three wins was just what we needed to complete the first round-robin."

As that included a win over Barker, the mainly British crew of five was doubly encouraged.

"My tactician, Jules Salter, has called for us to play the right-hand side of the track even though the left seemed to be favoured," explained Green. "It paid really well. Barker is very similar to his Team New Zealand skipper, Russell Coutts, in that he is cool and calm and plays the percentages, but we were able to match him all the way round and extend the lead in what were very shifty wind conditions. The crew work by Jules' brother, Guy, Jim Turner and my Kiwi local, Tony Mutter, was really solid."

Green then lost to his nearest rival in group one, Gavin Brady, who has a 7-3 record, but beat both the Australian James Spithill and Lars Nordbjerg of Denmark.

In the final race of the day, with the wind reaching 25 knots, Dickson led Barker up the first leg, but was caught breaking the port and starboard right of way rule as he tried to avoid Barker charging down on him, powered by a strong gust on the first spinnaker run.

Every trick he knew to shake off his attacker could not help him and though he led Barker to the finish line, Dickson lost the race as he executed his penalty turn.

Each group has four more races to complete today.