Fastnet teams prepare for races despite lack of wind at Cowes

The Britannia Cup was called off amid the calm conditions

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The Independent Online

All appeared calm, too calm, on the Solent on Tuesday but, behind the scenes, there was a lot of sweat and froth as some of the Fastnet teams moved into final preparations for Sunday.

The AAM Cowes Week race organisers finally threw in the towel at 14.00 and abandoned all racing for the lack of a consistent breeze, meaning that one of the week's two most coveted trophies, the Britannia Cup, stays in its cabinet until another year. The same could happen to the other, New York Yacht Club Challenge Cup, on Wednesday, as ice cream sales soar and the mobile telephone networks become even more clogged.

But work continued apace on what will be the all-woman Swedish entry for next year's Volvo round the world, SCA, and the return to home waters for double Olympic silver medallist Ian Walker and his Abu Dhabi team.

Walker will race the 605-mile Fastnet with a crew of 15 and his business partner Jamie Boag, promised "we will be full on racing."

This is a time for putting what will be a crew of only eight on the new 65-foot Volvo race boats and only two have been selected so far, Walker and a man who has become a national hero since his participation in the last race, Adil Khalid. Khalid will also be one of the mandatory two under-30s.

If last time was a learning experience at the highest level for him, it will be made even more interesting this time round by the appointment of Neal McDonald as performance director to the team. McDonald, an Olympian who has also been a Volvo skipper in his own right, will not be on board for the Fastnet, when he will be racing the 70-foot trimaran Oman Air Musandam.

He will be joined on the team by another long-time colleague, Guy Barron, who will be shore manager for a boat which is due to arrive in February next year.

"A lot of pressure has been removed by having a one-design boat, and the race will not go to the team with the fattest cheque book, but there is a new challenge in putting together a close-knit team. We are the only team that is coming back from the 2011-12 race and it is the best team that will lift the trophy at the end."

The Italian America’s Cup challenger Luna Rossa beat Sweden’s Artemis by 1min 57sec in the first race of the Louis Vuitton Cup elimination semi-final in San Francisco.

It was the first race for Artemis, which has been fighting an uphill battle to recover from the training crash which cost the life of British Olympic medallist Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson and despite only very few days of training, helmsman Nathan Outteridge, an Australian Olympic gold medallist, managed to win the start and the dash to the first turning mark.

But superior boat handling by the Italians, who had to make taped repairs to their 130-foot wing in the minutes just before the start, soon saw them establish an unassailable lead to take the first point in the best of seven.