Terry Hutchinson takes lead in Sardinia

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The Independent Online

In the third grand prix of the Audi Medcup series in Cagliari, Sardinia, Terry Hutchinson and the crew of his TP52 Quantum have ousted the previous series leader, Peter de Ridder's Mean Machine from the Netherlands.

Enjoying the stronger breezes, Hutchinson, tactician to Dean Barker aboard Team New Zealand in the America's Cup last year, put in two short-course wins ahead of yesterday's two-part coastal race.

He could manage only a fifth and a fourth, but, with two sixths, de Ridder went into the clubhouse two points behind Hutchinson, who was 12 points ahead of third-placed Barker, skippering the King of Spain's Bribon. But taking all 22 races so far this year, Hutchinson has lost a 0.2 point lead over Barker and these two are clear of Torbjorn Rornqvist's Artemis, also being used as a training platform for Americ's Cup challenger BMW Oracle, with de Ridder fourth.

It was not a good day for John Cook's Cristabella, whose two eighths left him tenth overall out of a fleet reduced to 13 from the 16 contesting the opening regatta in Alicante and 17 that started the second in Marseille.

Also completing their long coastal race were the 45 boats representing 15 teams in the Rolex Commodores' Cup. With just two races to go, what is predicted to be a breezy round the island clockwise and a double points final inshore race the battle seems to be between just two of them, Great Britain Red, which maintains a slender two-point lead over the 2006 holders, France Blue, despite their top-scoring boat, Gery Trentesaux's Lady Courrier, winning the big boat division.

Ireland Green, which had been in close contention, slipped to be 14 points behind in third place and the rest have an awful lot of catching up to do if they are to put themselves back in contention.