Sailing: Coulthard finds Enigma a tough act to follow

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The Independent Online

The cameras may have been on David Coulthard, but the serious racing in Skandia Cowes Week was several boat lengths ahead of him as the conditions again created some hot work yesterday for crews lining up for their seventh consecutive day.

The other yachts in his class - Coulthard eventually decided that discreet withdrawal was better than valour - were racing for the Rocking Chair Trophy, which sits in the opening to the verandah of its Island Sailing Club home. Charles Dunstone's 76-foot maxi-sled Enigma won it in the gyrating wind conditions of the western Solent.

The 52-foot Bear of Britain ended up on West Lepe spit, hard aground after a sling-shot start. It is a well known stretch of shallow water and there were many people standing or swimming in it. The skipper Mark Campbell-James' tactician, Chris Law, accepted the blame.

With an entry of 249 boats, the enduring appeal of the 608-mile Fastnet Race, which starts today is one of the more satisfying aspects of being commodore of the organising Royal Ocean Racing Club for Chris Little. His own yacht, the Europrix 45 Bounder, will be competing, but Little will not be aboard, citing business pressure in London.

He will miss seeing six Open 60s on the start line, including Mike Golding's last outing in his current Ecover, Neville Crichton's 90-foot Shockwave, which gives a time penalty to Mike Slade's Leopard despite being seven feet shorter, Charlie Dunstone's 76-foot maxi-sled Enigma and a pair of Volvo 60s.

But the biggest boat is the former Enza catamaran, lengthened to 100 feet and entered by Tony Bullimore.