Sailing: Beadsworth protest demotes King of Spain and gives Australians lead

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The Independent Online

The sight of an angry Andy Beadsworth striding purposefully up the dock, and then surrounded by legal advisers while urgently filling in paperwork can trigger alarm bells in even the most aloof of rivals but, as the Great Britain team helmsman was turning his fire on the leading team in the Admiral's Cup there were more than a few egging him on.

The King of Spain, HRH Juan-Carlos, has scored four straight wins in the opening inshore races to put his team, Real Club Nautico de Sangenjo, firmly in the lead, abetted by Pedro Campos, whose strong, though not always consistent, results in the smaller of the two boats has included two wins.

One of those was in the first of yesterday's two races, sailed in the sort of sunshine that made the Spaniards feel at home and an easterly breeze that had all 16 boats from eight teams and four countries romping happily in the eastern Solent. The first mark rounding meant that the yachts had to loop the loop and turn back through the approaching boats behind them.

Unfortunately for Campos, just as he hoisted his spinnaker to go back downwind, Beadsworth was in the way and, despite a mighty swerve, Campos hit Beadsworth, whose day as a representative of the Royal Southern Yacht Club saw him end sixth in that race and seventh in the next.

"Your fault," said the international and Campos was disqualified, pushing his team from first to third overall, Australia's Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club up to first and the Royal Ocean Racing Club's team to second.

Other than that hiccough, and a confused cruising yacht going backwards on the start line with less than a minute to go, the pecking order has smoothly been established inshore and today will be tested again in the first of two offshore races. For Ben Ainslie this will be first night he has spent at sea since the Ensenada Race off California in 2001 and only the second time he has raced offshore overnight. "I am really looking forward to it. I hope that the feel I have developed from dinghy racing will help me," he said.

With GBR Challenge skipper Ian Walker calling tactics, Ainslie is part of a strong team representing the RORC in a tough battle at the top of the small boat division. The trio of Ainslie, Campos and Colin Beashel from the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club in Sydney are in a league of their own. The 55-foot Bribon of HRH Juan-Carlos has the speed and a generous handicap to keep it ahead of the bigger, faster, double-ruddered Wild Oats, which is Beashel's big-boat brother in arms, so the series could now rest on strength of the Ainslie/ Walker combination and their big-boat team partner, a Farr 52 helmed by Ian Budgen.

ADMIRAL'S CUP (Standings after four races): 1 Royal Prince Alfred YC (Aus) 16pts; 2 Royal Ocean Racing Club (GB) 23; 3 Real Club Nautico de Sangenjo (Sp), 23; 4 Royal Southern Yacht Club (GB) 41; 5 Union Nationale pour les Courses au Large (Fra) 44; 6 Royal Thames Yacht Club (GB) 46; 7 Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club (GB) 47; 8 Real Club Nautico Vigo (Sp) 52.

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