Ireland and Dickson keep on flowing in the wind

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The Independent Online


A blustery, unseasonal and rainy wind off the desert did nothing to stop the progress of Australia's Kerry Ireland and Jennifer Dickson in the women's world championships for the Hobie Cat 16 catamaran in Dubai yesterday. After three firsts and a third on the first day, they began the second with a fourth bullet in five starts.

Conditions are expected to return to a sunny sea breeze by the weekend for the open world championship, which has attracted 312 pairs from 57 countries, run from the Dubai International Marine Club.

The fluctuating breeze did not matter to Ireland and Dickson, who scored another win and a second to make today look almost hopeless for the second- placed Jean Tully and Eileen Haubl and the third-placed South Africans, Inge Schabort and Gillian Anley.

Also flying the women's flag is the specially-formed Team Neutrogena in the revitalised Southern Ocean Racing Conference, which opened its 55th series in Miami yesterday. "JJ" Isler, starting helmsman and tactician on Bill Koch's all-woman America3 in the last America's Cup, skippers a squad of 12 in a highly competitive fleet of 15 Mumm 36s.

She will be able to make up for a lack of muscle with a crew of 10, instead of the normal eight, because overall weight, rather than numbers, is the criterion. Among them should be America3 veterans Lisa Charles, Kate Pettibone, Susie Nairn and Melissa Purdy.

Graham Walker's Indulgence will contest the one-design 48-footer class, although in the French colours of the Corum watch team, and against him will be one of his old helmsmen, Eddie Warden Owen, who will be steering David McLean's Babbalas. Over 150 boats, compared with 88 last year, are entered in a regatta that had been in decline but which has found a new lease of life.