Scots pin hopes on Sproul protest

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The Independent Online

The hopes of Scotland's leading yacht in the Rolex Commodores' Cup took a dive yesterday when emergency action was needed to prevent the yacht from filling with water and the crew finished the day in the protest room.

The hopes of Scotland's leading yacht in the Rolex Commodores' Cup took a dive yesterday when emergency action was needed to prevent the yacht from filling with water and the crew finished the day in the protest room.

The 40-footer McWolf put in a good performance as helmsman Mark Heeley and Kevin Sproul scored another win in the first of yesterday's pair of inshore races. But everything went wrong in the second, first as they were recalled for being an early starter, which left them trailing the fleet of seven three-boat teams by four minutes. Then, as they tried to claw their way back, the vang [which controls the boom and mainsail] broke on three occasions. To add insult to injury, the speedometer paddle equipment pushed up into the bottom of the hull, allowing water to flood the bow.

At the end of the 10-mile race, sailed in a brisk 16-20 knot south-westerly, the yacht made a hurried beeline for the dock to be hoisted out. Simultaneously, Sproul lodged a protest claiming that the over-the-line call was incorrect. Both courses of action were needed to prevent Scotland's only hope in this event from sinking. Their other two boats are struggling.

Hanging on at the top is the Commonwealth team despite a strong challenge from the Channel Islands. Tony Buckingham's A Bit of a Coup and Rennie McArthur's Dignity strung together enough points to put them equal. But Buckingham's second boat, the Mumm 30, Easy Oars, lost half a point for a sail infringement. They are one-quarter of a point ahead of England Blue, whose Royal Ocean Racing Club commodore, Peter Rutter, was involved in a finish line altercation with England Red rival, Paul Churchill.

The top scoring boat remains Tim Dixon and John Manley's 35ft Roaring Meg. She will be put to the test today as the series continues with a 24-30 hour offshore race.

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