Thompson wins in Artemis round

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The Independent Online

It took just 4hr 13min 48sec to erase a year-long nightmare for Brian Thompson yesterday as he skippered the Open 60 Pindar to a convincing win in the Artemis round the Isle of Wight Race as part of Skandia Cowes Week.

Last year the mast was dismasted and then, just before the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre last autumn, suffered the same fate. It may have been raining for part of the 50-mile dash yesterday but conditions were near-perfect for fast sailing and Thompson was searching the record books to see if this was the fastest time ever for an Open 60.

Strung out in his wake were Seb Josse in Ellen MacArthur's BT, Mike Golding in Ecover, Alex Thomson in Hugo Boss and Dee Caffari in Aviva. Jonny Malbon in his new Artemis was seventh.

"It was absolutely fantastic, really good," said Thompson once ashore in Cowes. "It is a great feeling after seeing the mast falling out one year ago to come back and win the same race and it is a testament to all the work that the team has put in over the winter. "It was also good to see the two injured soldiers from Headley Court, Jono Lee of the 2nd Yorkshires and Chris Herbert of the 1st Yorkshires grinding the winches so well all the way. It was a true Open 60 experience and we were doing a steady 18 knots from the Needles to St. Catherine's Point."

After the double dismasting and the fitting of a replacement, Thompson had to complete a 5,500-mile qualifier and yesterday had its original skipper, Volvo Race winner Mike Sanderson, trimming the sails and tuning the boat.

"There is no doubt that she is very fast and we proved that to the world today," he said. "Andrew Pindar called from America to say how happy he was, but I don't think there is anyone as happy as me right now."

Nearly as happy were the crew of Niklas Zennstrom's TP52 Ran as they notched up their fourth straight win to preserve their unbeaten record in

Class Zero and Louise Morton, a candidate for the Liz Earle Ladies Day Trophy today, was again out front, with her all-woman crew, in her quarter tonner Espada.