Law frustrated by Indulgence farce

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The Independent Online
Chris Law was incandescent with rage at the start of what was described as a short offshore race in the Admiral's Cup yesterday.

The skipper of Britain's big boat, Graham Walker's Corum Indulgence, was going for a spot at the outer end of the line, misjudged the angle and hooked his keel into the anchor line of the committee boat.

With the flooding tide pushing him harder on, it took over three minutes to disentangle and over four to recross the line, take a penalty turn and set off in pursuit of the other 20 yachts making up the seven, three- boat national teams, streaming more on a strong tide than the three to five knot wind towards Portsmouth.

Indulgence came last as the defending champions, Italy, had a good day, pushing up to fourth overall and giving them a platform for success as the Fastnet assumes its usual decisive role. In the sort of light airs the Italians enjoy and which could continue over the weekend, they won both the big boat and 40ft classes in a race shortened to 36 miles. Unhappily Britain have slumped from a high of second to an unhappy sixth.

The United States still lead, chased by New Zealand. Relations between the two on the water are competitive, off it increasingly acrimonious. Disagreements over rule interpretations are leading to a situation more reminiscent of the last three America's Cups.

After much confusion, Tim Louis and Kit Hobday did everyone's dream Cowes Week double by adding the New York Yacht Club Challenge Trophy to the Britannia Cup won the day before with their 41-footer Independent Bear. But unhappy were the XOD-boat sailors: for the fifth time in six days they had no a race.

A pounds 5m bid by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston to establish a raft of 20 new records, including the Jules Verne round the world trophy which he held jointly with Sir Peter Blake on the 92ft catamaran Enza, was announced in Cowes yesterday.

Sir Robin has the backing of an engineering team from British Aerospace to work with designer Nigel Irens to plan the 120ft catamaran, which he hopes will also be a British entry in The Race, a non-stop round the world international event planned to start on 31 December 2000 in boats of unlimited size.

But Sir Robin needs to find the finance before he can start building. Mike Golding, however, is ready to let the contract for the new Open 60, to be called the Group 4 Solo 60, to be designed by Finot and built by the JMV yard in Cherbourg. In a project costing pounds 500,000 a year for four years Golding will take part in both the Around Alone race next year and the 2000 Vendee Globe singlehanded non-stop round the world race.