Old and new meet at Cowes

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The Independent Online
Sailing

STUART ALEXANDER

Ancient and modern combine in Cowes today as the Matthew, a replica of John Cabot's 1497 ship which took him from Bristol to Newfoundland, meets up with a near-40 strong fleet contesting the Royal Ocean Racing Club's Red Funnel Easter Regatta, including a clutch of boats limbering up for Commodores' Cup team trials.

Neither appreciated the chilly but fresh winds from the South-east, although the Matthew's master, David Alan-Williams, will be ready for worse when he sets off for north America next year and has experienced much more misery on the world record-breaking run of the 92ft catamaran Enza when winning the Jules Verne Trophy.

The first boat to finish in Class One yesterday was Stephen Fein's Full Pelt, followed over the line at the finish of a 15-mile race in the central Solent by two Mumm 36s, John Oswald's Destiny Angel and Tim Barrett's Bradamante.

First boat to finish in Class Two was Chris and Georgie Brown's Billy J Whizz on an afternoon watched by Harry Cudmore, brought in by the RORC to offer coaching hints to those hoping to make what is expected to be two England teams for the Commodores' Cup in July.

Formal trials begin next month and this is an area which Cudmore has not contested for some time. "It will be interesting to have a look at what is going on at local and club level after being so closely involved in both Admiral's and America's Cup," Cudmore said. "It is really too early to say what will need to be done, but weekends like this early in the season offer useful pointers."

The New York Yacht Club's Pact 2000 defence syndicate for the Americas Cup has linked with the Portland Yacht Club, Maine, and Detroit's Bayview Yacht Club to encourage regional support.

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