Hutchinson wins Portugal Trophy

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The Independent Online

Job done, Terry Hutchinson and his Quantum sailing team duly wrapped up the Audi MedCup series for 2008 yesterday by also winning the Portugal Trophy, staged in light winds. His has been a tour de force from a lavishly funded boat that was designed to rattle the cage of the world’s dominant racing sails maker, North, which is possibly soon to be sold.

Hutchinson, an intense and meticulous skipper, has delivered all he promised his backers and the present to himself was to beat his old skipper, New Zealander Dean Barker, for who he had been tactician in the America’s Cup final in Valencia last year.

The six regattas, starting with Alicante in May, provide a high octane training ground for crew lists saturated with America’s Cup names.

While what likes to call itself sports oldest trophy – the Doggett’s Coat and Badge rowing race on the Thames was first staged in 1715 – is in the cul de sac of the New York courts, this event has taken centre stage along with the iShares Cup.

More America’s Cup talent was competing in 40-foot catamarans in the final iShares regatta in Amsterdam yesterday, including the Swiss Cup holder, Ernesto Bertarelli’s Alinghi, and the team carrying the colours of Britain’s Cup challenger, Sir Keith Mills’ Origin.

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They were level-pegging going into the showdown on the canals, but, in the light easterly winds, it was Ed Baird, with six wins out of 11 races at the helm of Alinghi, who was striding away towards a series win. Rob Greenhalgh’s origin crew was lying third, 22 points behind Baird, as they went into the clubhouse overnight as second-placed Nick Moloney was joined on BT by fellow-Australian and Tornado silver medallist in China, Darren Bundock.

Back in Alicante, the Volvo Ocean Race opened its three-week fiesta as all eight boats are in final tuning mode for the inshore race on 4 October and the start of the first leg to Cape Town on 11 October. There are still problems about whether the keel of the latest of two Ericsson boats complies with the design rules but any dispute can be put to an international jury which could either throw out the measurement team’s complaint or impose a penalty on what is one of the favourites, skippered by five-times Olympic medallist Torben Grael.

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