Sproul's progress slowed at the start

The grand occasion of the Skandia Life Cowes Week had a bit of a sting in the tail for the competitors yesterday when a third day of blue skies and sunshine was made more tricky by that most essential element of yacht racing, the wind.

The grand occasion of the Skandia Life Cowes Week had a bit of a sting in the tail for the competitors yesterday when a third day of blue skies and sunshine was made more tricky by that most essential element of yacht racing, the wind.

"It was pretty variable in the eastern Solent and when we got to the western Solent it wasn't much better," said Kevin Sproul, the tactician on Glynn Williams's Farr 40 Wolf, winner of her class for the first two days.

Sproul and his helmsman, Mark Heeley, put most of their less than satisfactory result down to a mediocre start and being squeezed between some bigger boats as they made their way north of the Bramble Bank. The race was won by a local yachtsman, Graham Sunderland, in the 35ft Alliance & Leicester.

The top Farr 40, Rennie Miller's Dignity, was having to sort out an altercation with a boat in another class, which left the top Farr 40 position wide open for Philip Tolhurst in Warlord.

All those who were below par will have to put the day behind them today, including Adam Gosling, who has chartered Tony Buckingham's A Bit of a Coup for the week. Yesterday he painfully managed to catch a portion of rock off Egypt Point on his keel. His tactician, David Howlett, said that he had called for a switch in direction a full 15 seconds earlier.

Today the class, which is the flag carrier for a new handicap system called IRM, has been rewarded with the race for the Britannia Cup, one of the most coveted of the week.

Colm Barrington, who is having a storming week, is also feeling slight disappointment. His new Corby 38, Gloves Off, made it two in a row at the top of Class 1 when he won the Sir Walter Preston Challenge Cup. "The boat is flying downwind so, in those long runs against the tide, we were able to make great gains as we worked the mainland shore," he said.

What has irked him is that he lost Saturday's opening race for the Queen's Cup by three seconds to Tony Mack's McFly. By being four seconds quicker that day would have put him on a hat-trick yesterday. "The boys are very happy. They did a super job on a difficult day made worse by a lot of spectator boats throwing up wash," he added.

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