Sailing: Navigation error takes wind out of Quilter's sails

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The Independent Online

Mike Quilter has been hailed as one of the best navigators in the world of yacht racing and has been round the planet so many times his children could be forgiven for wondering who he was when he came home, but the Solent yesterday lured the New Zealander into a basic error.

Better known as "Lowie", short for "Low Life", the genial guru has teamed up with Mike Sanderson for Cowes Week on the Volvo Round the World Race-winning ABN Amro 1.

They had won the top trophy on Saturday and Sunday and were powering their way to a hat-trick when they inadvertently left a navigation buoy called West Lepe to their right.

It should have been on their left, however illogical that may have felt, so they owned up after the finish - it was only the second such occurrence in Quilter's career - the other was also with Sanderson in Antigua on Mari Cha IV - and the five per cent penalty cost them the silverware.

Earlier, to a hearty cheer laced with irony, the 89 Laser SB3s started their race at the first attempt. After having been sent home after two unsuccessful attempts the day before, their time slot was brought forward by 20 minutes to allow for further upset.

It was not needed and if there was a distinct hint of Admiral Nelson's blind eye to a handful who might have been over the line before the gun, it made little difference to the outcome of what was to prove a testing race both physically and tactically.

Physically for one Clive Bush, who managed to wrap a rope which is meant to be attached only to the spinnaker round one of his turning marks. The boat tried to carry on, the mast tried to go no further, so the top of the mast parted company with the rest.

Up front, Russell Peters, originally from Liverpool, again beat his arch-rival, the Australian former Laser world champion Glenn Bourke, but both had to give best to Jono Shelley, who hails from Darlington, not the best-known cradle of yachting talent.

Peters, who holds the overall lead after two races, was angry with himself for forfeiting the lead to clear a clump of weed off the keel, but was full of praise for Shelley's performance. "He sailed exceptionally well and didn't make any mistakes," Peters said.