Sailing: Ainslie pushed down to second place on handicap

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The Independent Online

All was left to play for over the final few miles of the ninth and final race of the Admiral's Cup last night with the leading yachts battling neck-and-neck as they made fast progress eastwards up the Channel to the Solent and Cowes.

All was left to play for over the final few miles of the ninth and final race of the Admiral's Cup last night with the leading yachts battling neck-and-neck as they made fast progress eastwards up the Channel to the Solent and Cowes.

Just a single point separated the leaders, one of two Spanish teams based on clubs in Galicia, and the Sydney-based Australians, when the yachts left Cowes on Saturday and as the long off-shore race counts four points per place, the destination of the Cup looked increasingly certain to be Galicia. The Spanish team captain, King Juan Carlos, was taking a close interest in events.

The top British team, representing the organising Royal Ocean Racing Club, put in a late charge. Ben Ainslie, with Derek Clark replacing Ian Walker as tactician, won the 40-footer class, but was egded into second on handicap by Pedro Campos, who then had a two-placed advantage over the Australian Colin Beashel. All then rested on the KIng's 55-footer Bribon finishign within a couple ofmplaces of the Australian big boat, Wild Oats.

The course took the bigger boats ­ they were reduced to seven minutes after the start when France's Bertrand Pace pulled out Krazy K-Yote because of rudder delamination ­ 360 miles down the Channel, around Wolf Rock Light, and back. The 40-footers faced 230 miles around the Eddystone Light off Plymouth, another indication that the boats chosen for this event may not be truly suitable for offshore racing.

Also needing to put in a big final effort, Mike Golding and his crew were trailing the leader of the Calais Round Britain Race, France's Roland Jourdain, by 28 miles. The fleet of nine Open 60s was heading down the north-east coast of Scotland with Golding less than pleased that his yacht, Ecover, was again being asked to battle upwind when it prefers downwind conditions.

Racing in a 15-knot southerly and moderate seas, Ecover was due to pass Aberdeen at about midnight with less than 400 miles to the finish, which will probably come tomorrow night.

"We are sailing a reasonably direct course and so are hoping to pull back some of those miles overnight," Golding said yesterday.

In Laredo, Spain, Chris Draper and the 2000 Olympic silver medallist, Simon Hiscocks, took silver in the 49er European Championship.

Paul Brotherton and Mark Asquith, Britain's representatives in the Pre-Olympics in Athens next month, jumped from 14th to fourth on the final day.

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