OLYMPICS / Barcelona 1992: Sailing: Smooth Soling as Smith fights back

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THERE are few fiercer competitors than Lawrie Smith, and, having opened with a lackadaisical 15th place in his first Soling race, he responded yesterday with a win in his second.

With crew members, Rob Cruickshank and Ossie Stewart, he then added a fourth place in the second race of the day to put himself back into the medal contention.

Smith is aware that he has only to finish in the top six to make the cut for the match-race play-offs, where everything starts even again. Even with the might of Kevin Mahaney, of the United States, and Denmark's Jesper Bank, ahead of him, that is easily attainable if he is settling into the groove.

The daring of Andy Hemmings on the trapeze and the bravado of helmsman Paul Brotherton gave further fuel to the whisper that they could provide an upset in the 470 fleet as they moved into second place overall.

They were one of three crews, the others being Spain and New Zealand, who decided to travel hard left at the start of their race in an eight-to-10 knot easterly, and the trio were the first boats to round the top mark.

Brotherton and Hemmings knew they had extra speed on the spinnaker reaches; they overtook the New Zealanders ahead of them on the second beat and then settled for second place as Spain's Jordi Calafat and Francisco Sanchez recorded their second victory.

'Calafat had the jump today, but he's certainly beatable,' a confident Brotherton said. 'He's nine points ahead, but that's nothing really.' Calafat himself admitted, 'We are scared of the British yachtsmen.'

At the half-way point in the 1o- race women's boardsailing series, pounds pounds pounds Penny Way lies fourth after a third and fifth yesterday. She is 0.4 points adrift of Dorien de Vries, of the Netherlands, who is occupying the bronze medal slot.

Way needs to work hard if she is to catch Italy's Alessandra Sensini in second place and the runaway leader, New Zealand's Barbara Kendall, one of three Kiwi class winners yesterday.

In a comeback mined from the deepest reserves of strength, Stuart Childerley stayed in the hunt for a Finn medal with a sixth place yesterday. Having gambled with a humming bird hover right on the start line, he was pushed over as Oleg Khoperski, of the Unified Team, aproached from underneath.

Childerley went back to restart, was 26th of 29 at the first windward turn, and then set about the the task of damage limitation exercise which ultimately proved successful.

A former Finn sailor with the unenviable task of following in Mike McIntyre's 1988 gold medal footsteps, David Howlett, with crew Phil Lawrence, moved into third place overall in the Star class.