Sailing: Buoyant Peyron says new record is vulnerable to attack

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The Independent Online

Bruno Peyron opened the bidding for what the French hope will be a winning weekend of sport when, to the cheers of a crowded dockside, he brought his stricken but victorious 120-foot catamaran Orange II to anchor off his home port, the little Brittany resort of La Baule, yesterday.

With Amélie Mauresmo in the women's Wimbledon final today and Les Bleus in the World Cup final tomorrow, Peyron hopes he has struck the first blow of a tricouleur hat-trick by setting a new record for the 2,900-mile Atlantic crossing from New York to The Lizard. He beat the previous time by 9hr 4min 12sec but, while full of praise for his "dream team" of 11 crew, he immediately struck a word of warning that his new time of 4days 8hr 23min 54sec was vulnerable to attack.

"Is it possible to cut the time to below four days? Without hesitation, yes," he said, adding that prior to a collision, possibly with ice, which damaged the port rudder, the boat's computer was predicting a run of under four days this time.

There were cheers also for the 19 competitors in the Breitling Medcup TP52 as they finished their coastal race in front of a bemused but excited crowd here.

A bold tactical call by his US tactician Dee Smith to take Eamon Conneely's Siemens offshore in a catch-up move from 16th to sixth helped double Olympic medallist Ian Walker hold on to the overall lead.

The final inshore race is today and Walker has a seven-point cushion over his nearest rival, Peter de Ridder in Mutua Madrileña.

Records will also be on the agenda for Brian Thompson, who yesterday announced the backing of Edinburgh-based fund management company Artemis for a two-year solo move into the Open 60 class in his own right. The main target this year for his new boat, formerly Emma Richards' Pindar, will be the Route du Rhum from St Malo to Guadeloupe in October.

Before that he will take part, in August, in the Round Britain and Ireland race, and then in three specially organised events in Scotland.He hopes next year to set new records for round the Isle of Wight, round Britain and to the Fastnet Rock and back.

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