Indulgence find gratification on dark day of mishaps

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The Independent Online
Out of the confusion of a heavy collision, some gear damage, some disastrous wrong turns and a welter of protests for the jury, the shining bonus for the British three-boat team on the first day of the Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup was a second place for Graham Walker's 45-foot Corum Indulgence in both races, writes Stuart Alexander from the Solent.

The day opened grey and wet for the 21 yachts representing seven countries and turned blacker for a couple of them as the pressure took its toll. Worst hit were the young team on Britain's Mumm 36, Bradamante. Having scored a second in the first race, they were leading the second into the last turning mark, but went round it the wrong way.

The rest of the fleet followed and then found they were not given a finish when they went though the line. Off back to Cowes they went disconsolate, all except Italy's Breeze, with Tommaso Chieffi and Eddie Warden Owen on board.

They went back and finished the course again and were awarded a win, having been last, while all the others scored a seventh for not finishing. The others immediately prepared to protest because Breeze had won the first Mumm 36 race, now rather important to the defending Italian team.

The hardest hit were the crew of the big boat, Madina, which after going round the West Lepe Buoy in the west Solent had the cable, which turns their rudder, snap. The 49-foot yacht rounded up, tacked and headed back not just into the buoy but straight into the approaching Australian 50- footer, Syd Fischer's Ragamuffin. The two collided, ripping out Ragamuffin's bow pulpit, damaging stanchions and lifelines and creasing the carbon fibre hull. None of the crew, all sitting with their legs over the side, was hurt either by the collision or the boom scything over their yacht at head level.

Madina also had damage to the hull, but none to the crew, and Rod Davis, the skipper, said: "It may be a late night, but we will be there tomorrow for the Channel race, we will be sailing."

The Italians also needed the break as their 40-footer, Brava, previously twice world champion, saw her old dominance cruelly pushed aside by the most impressively powerful boat on the course, the German Willi Illbruck's Pinta, guided by the American, John Kostecki.

He scored two firsts and the triple Olympic gold medallist, Jochen Schumann, steered the big boat, Rubin, to victory in the first race provisionally to give Germany a morale-boosting filip of leading overall.

Britain, also suffering as their 40-footer, Easy Oars, fell to last after hitting a mark in the first race and needing overnight repair, were third equal with Italy.

However, with the New Zealanders only fifth equal with Australia and their 40-footer facing a protest from Easy Oars, and the United States second, everything is still open going into today's 200-mile Channel race.