Sailing: Walker misses chance to achieve Italian double

Two races against the challengers from Italy resulted in a 1-1 draw for Britain's GBR Challenge yesterday, which was disappointing for Ian Walker and his team after having the 2000 Louis Vuitton Cup winners, Prada, in their sights, but failing to nail them in some pressure racing at its best.

Wight Lightning was ahead as the pair rounded the first windward mark of a short 12.5-mile course being sailed in a brisk 17 knots of wind. With the wind freshening, the two were then locked in combat all the way back down the three-mile spinnaker run, Prada constantly sitting on the stern of GBR, trying to trip them up and repeatedly asking the umpire to award a penalty against the British boat.

They did not succeed in that, but did succeed in squeezing past to turn their previous deficit into a nine-second advantage. Once in control, Prada stayed there to notch up their sixth straight win of round-robin two.

Prada's compatriots, Mascalzone Latino, are wobbling emotionally and the helmsman Paolo Cian decided he needed a day or two to recompose himself, so Flavio Favini continued on the helm for GBR's first race of the day. Mascalzone kept in touch and, though GBR was never really threatened, they were made to respond to a work-out of 21 tacks on the second upwind leg. No problem there, either.

The British persuaded the jury that their race on Wednesday against Alinghi, which they lost, had been so badly organised that it has to be resailed.

LOUIS VUITTON CUP (Auckland) Second round-robin: GBR Challenge (GB) bt Mascalzone Latino (It) by 1min 40sec; Oracle BMW (US) bt OneWorld (US) 0:40; Prada (It) bt Victory (Swe) 0:10; Stars & Stripes (US) bt Le Defi (Fr) 1:12; Prada bt GBR Challenge 0:16; OneWorld bt Victory 0:21; Alinghi (Swit) bt Stars & Stripes 0:49. Overall: 1 Alinghi 12pts; 2 OneWorld 11; 3 Prada Challenge 10; 4 Oracle BMW 7; 5= GBR Challenge 6; 5= Victory 6; 7 Stars & Stripes 5; 8 Mascalzone Latino 1; 9 Le Defi 0.

OneWorld deducted one point for rules breach.

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When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
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