Motor Racing: Spanish back GP circuit

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The Independent Online
A SPANISH sports promotion agency, Dorna, is poised to take over the Formula One Grand Prix yachting circuit established by Noel Robins in Fremantle, writes Stuart Alexander from Perth.

According to Robins, the Spaniards will take an initial 50 per cent stake in Sail International, leaving him and his three founding partners, Syd Corser, Dennis Hawgan and Ian Parkes, with 12.5 per cent each, reducing to 10 per cent when Dorna lifts its stake to 60 per cent. The circuit has run for two years with mixed success, but its main stumbling block has been its inability to sell more than five boats.

The concept, which sees everything shipped from venue to venue and leading skippers, including Dennis Conner, racing for cash prizes, has also struggled to attract sponsors either for the races or the yachts. Yet Robins insists that the event has proved a worthy competitive vehicle for skippers of America's Cup calibre. He hopes to bring the yachts to Fremantle at the beginning of next year both to re-create the 1987 America's Cup and to coincide with the stopover of the Whitbread fleet.

The boats are identical 52ft 6in lightweights designed by Britain's Tony Castro and the American, Bruce Nelson. One benefit of the Spanish link, says Robins, will be a Spanish grand prix to be staged in mid-May off the waters of Barcelona. Further grands prix are scheduled for France in mid-June, but the Scottish grand prix on the Clyde in early July and the German grand prix in Kiel at the end of the month, have yet to be confirmed.

Robins also hopes for three regattas in North America including grands prix in Canada, either in Toronto or Vancouver, and the United States, in San Diego, San Francisco or New York.