Sailing: America breeze to hat-trick

AFTER a Channel race which was completed faster than the early weather conditions indicated, all that was clear at the half-way point of the Rolex Commodores' Cup was that the Americans were winning and happy, and that the three British-based teams, from Jersey, England and Wales, were still the last three of nine.

The new International Measurement System of handicapping was pleasing no one except the winners, and was not always completely understood even by them. Hopes that it would produce boats less costly than the old International Offshore Rule have proved misguided.

Claims that it will produce fairer racing are regarded with considerable scepticism. And, as it is impossible to assess which bit of the flexible spectrum of time allowances the computer may choose, it is also impossible to know how to tailor tactics.

American boats won all three classes. John Risley's Numbers took Class One by more than 16 minutes from Don Smith's consistently well-sailed Falcon. Buddy Melges steered Kropp Duster to victory in Class Two, and David Clarke's Mumm 36, Pigs in Space, won again at the hands of Kenny Read.

England were last in Class One, next to last in Class Two but scored a third in Class Three with Jorg Reichers' The Wall. There was also a smile on Graham Walker's face as his 50-footer, Indulgence, won the Channel handicap division of the Channel race.

Of one thing, all were sure - that of all the directions that the wind was in over the 174 miles it was never in the south-south-west, as stated on the results sheet issued by the Royal Ocean Racing Club. That beleaguered organisation is having to cope with seeing an event for club racers and private owners turned into a full- blown international competition by works teams from Germany and big budget talent from the United States.

They are also on the back foot over a claim by the national keelboat coach, Bill Edgerton, that the Royal Yachting Association wants to take away from the RORC the selection process for national teams in both this event and the Admiral's Cup. The official line yesterday was that this was a private opinion, not official RYA policy. But the move has been discussed for some time.

National Power, skippered by Alan Moore, won the finals of T&N Industry Challenge on a 90- mile course from Cowes around Poole Fairway buoy and then back round the Isle of Wight.

ROLEX COMMODORES' CUP: Teesside Channel Race (Class One): 1 J Risley (Numbers) US Red; 2 D Smith (Falcon) US White; 3 R Arndt (Antibody) Germany Red. (Class Two): 1 C Kropp (Kropp Duster) US Red; 2 T Friese (Omen) Germany Red; 3 J Schumann (Astro) Germany Green. (Class Three): 1 D Clarke (Pigs in Space) US White; 2 T Dodson (Thomas I Punkt) Germany Green; 3 J Reichers (The Wall) England.

Overall (after 4 races): 1 US White 22.25pts; 2 Germany Red 42.24; 3 US Red 48.75; 4 Germany Green 49; 5 Argentina 67.25; 6 Netherlands 68; 7 Jersey 70.5; 8 England 77.5; 9 Wales, 91.5.

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