King Juan Carlos can't rule the Medcup

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Just as King Canute proved to fawning courtiers that he could not control the tide, so King Juan Carlos demonstrated yesterday that a royal presence on the race course cannot whistle up an un-cooperative wind.

In the one, shortened seven-miler of the Audi Medcup grand prix for TP52s he did at least manage, with skipper Dean Barker, a fifth place which pushed his Bribon up one place in the overall rankings, to third. But, on points, he fell further behind the stormaway leader, Peter de Ridder, whose Mean Machine scored its fifth consecutive bullet. The Kiwi likes of Tom Dodson and Ray Davies, plus American navigator Kevin Hall, already close to strutting mode following the two-win night before, were wearing even broader smiles when they heard that their cricketing counterparts had knocked up 277 runs against England.

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Second, as the wind died and the bar dropped, was Artemis, Swedish-flagged and owned, but with Kiwi Jared Henderson as skipper, American John Kostecki as tactician, and Italian Matteo Plazzi as navigator.

And putting in a regatta-best with a third was El Desafio, the entry of Spain's America's Cup team. Its skipper, Paul Cayard, personally boasts almost as many nationalities as most crews combined, born in the U.S with a French father and American mother, Swedish affiliations by marriage, Italian courtesy of a 1992 America's Cup campaign, and now Spanish as he guides them into the next Cup. Tactician John Cutler, British-born, Kiwi-raised, American in the 2000 Cup and now also Spanish is struggling to keep up.

In theory there could be three more races but, even with a decent breeze, it is unlikely there would be more than two on the final day today, meaning the Meanies are set to carry an overall lead to the second grand prix in Marseille, the first week in June. A thousand miles into the Atlantic, but expected to reach the halfway stage of their race from Plymouth to Boston over the weekend, the singlehanders in the Artemis Transat are in the middle of 36 hours of uncertainty today as the race organisers, Mark Turner and Ellen MacArthur, play the wild card of an information blackout to the remaining 12 Open 60 and the 11 Class 40 competitors. This stops people tracking each other and forces them to take their own directional and tactical decisions .

They will find out tomorrow whether life has been a snake or a ladder, but most seem to approve of the idea and third-placed Loick Peyron, seeking a hat-trick of wins in the 48-year old event, would prefer the information ban to apply all the time.

Still leading was the Frenchman Sebastien Josse, who is one of Dame Ellen's BT stable jockeys, by over 20 miles from Vincent Riou in PRB with Pryron's Gitana 80 another 15 miles behind.

Back in seventh place, from sixth, is Samantha Davies in Roxy while Dee Caffari has pushed up a place to 10 because one of the pre-start favourites, Michel Desjoyeaux has pulled out, heading for home in Brittany to repair a damaged dagger board and casing. He thinks he hit a whale.

In the Class 40, Miranda Merron also thinks she hit a whale, but neither suffered damage and she is back up to third as Italy's Giovanni Soldini continues his tour de force at the front, but with a thinning lead over Boris Herrmann of Germany.