MacArthur edges out Golding in long tactical battle

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The Independent Online

After three days of confrontation at close quarters, Ellen MacArthur in Kingfisher finally managed to get the better of Mike Golding in Ecover as they zig-zagged their way up the North Sea yesterday.

The pair had been locked in a match race battle after a testing, sometimes frustrating 575-mile race from St Malo to Hamburg which formed the first leg of the EDS Atlantic Challenge.

Roland Jourdain in Sill set the pace to cross the finish line at Cuxhaven in first place, with MacArthur beating Golding to second spot.

The race had seen light conditions most of the way, with the wind against the fleet of seven of the Open 6s for much of the latter stages. The tacticians were kept busy and at one stage MacArthur allowed Golding, then three miles behind, the chance to slip away and turn that into a five-mile advantage as she focused attention on attacking Jourdain in a bid to win. It took her and her four crew 12 hours to claw back the deficit and re-establish a lead of about three miles.

This was the third time that Golding had tried to wriggle free and the third time he had been reeled back in relentlessly by a yacht significantly quicker up wind. "For a non-contact sport this is incredibly close contact racing. We have been in touch with our rivals every hour of the way,'' MacArthu said.

"Sailing with a crew has been great. It's been a challenge searching for the next gear because, even after 50,000 miles, we are still learning and learning a lot. I have sailed with Mark Turner before and the addition of co-skipper Mike Moloney plus co-navigator Adrienne Cahalan and crewman Anthony Merrington, has made a significant contribution.''

The fleet races from Cuxhaven to Portsmouth on Monday and then continues to Baltimore, Boston and St Malo.

In Marstrand, Russell Coutts, the man who both won and defended for New Zealand in the Americas' Cup but is now challenging his country for the Swiss, looks the most likely to reach the semi-finals of the Swedish Match Cup tomorrow.

His successors, Bertrand Pace, Dean Barker, Peter Gilmour, Chris Dickson, and Jesper Bank are all out.

Britain's Americas' squad made it to the second round but by losing his first three races Andy Green, with crew James Stagg, Jules Salter, Richard Sydenham, and Jim Turner looked unlikely to progress while triple Olympic gold medallists Jochan Schumann and Gavin Brady were being made to fight all the way.