Sailing: Robertson lifts second major prize in Patches

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The Independent Online

Early sun was promised, but it flirted and teased before coming into full bloom mid-afternoon. A midday south-westerly sea breeze was forecast, but it grudgingly made its way eastward from Lymington and round the corner to Portsmouth, depositing a demilitarised zone of agonising calm just of Cowes Roads.

At the end of the day, the usual suspects were back up there on the leader board not least in the two biggest fleets of the week.

After a delay of nearly two hours, the last fleet to start, representing the ancient, and the biggest of the 38 classes, saw battle immediately rejoined between the two men leading the X One Design, Stuart Jardine and Kim Slater.

It took two attempts as the XODs settled into their time-honoured mode of mass premature start and an invitation to try again.

Jardine and Slater then trod a middle path to the first, upwind, Gurnard Ledge turning mark, which marks a rocky spit. At the finish Jardine had won the race and with Slater in sixth place, held a slender 1pt lead overall.

Having all been recalled to restart on the first two days, the modern, in the form of the SB3s, saw all but half a dozen of those over the line struggle back for their third race with the first day winner, Ian Southworth, beating the second, Nigel Olive-Jones and Mathew Johnston, into second.

In the eastern Solent south-easterly, Eamon Conneely's 52ft Patches, with double Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson on the helm and her coach, double silver medallist Ian Walker, helping with the tactics, added the major trophy of the day, the RYS Cup, to the Queen's Cup they lifted on the opening day. But Purple Haze was pipped for their third consecutive win by a trio from Oxted.

The Spanish version of Cowes Week, the Copa del Rey, saw the American Paul Cayard leave the dock on the Greek billionaire George Andreadis' Atalanti XV knowing he had been confirmed as skipper of The Black Pearl, the Disney boat in the forthcoming Volvo Ocean Race.

The boat, being built in Southampton, will publicise Johnny Depp's second in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. "I simply couldn't say no," said Cayard, who, after skippering EF Language to victory in 1997/98, said the only way he would want to do the round-the-world race again would be as a cyber-skipper using the internet from his home in San Francisco. In March next year, Mike Golding will be both organising and competing in an Open 60 race from London to Shanghai.

The China Cup is expected to call into Brittany and then Qingdao, venue for the 2008 Olympic sailing, on the way. Golding beat two rival French bids to stage the event.

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