SAILING: Backers' decision crucial to Cup

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The Independent Online
Britain is two-thirds of the way to solving the embarrassing problem of putting together a team for its own major competition, the 1995 Champagne Mumm Admiral's Cup. But there is still much work to be done.

Things are looking "a bit more promising" according to the chairman of selectors, Robin Aisher, who is waiting to hear that Stephen Baird, of Regatta Team Scotland, has succeeded in beating the South Africans for the charter of a new Nelson/ Marek 46-footer being built in the United States.

Baird is in a position to sign a deal, but is unhappy about committing to such expense without a guarantee that there will be a team, which must consist of three boats. There will certainly be no problem in finding the smallest of the trio, a Mumm 36, and the trials programme should ensure that Britain will have a competitive contender in that category.

The problem, however, is in finding the middle-sized boat, a 40-footer. The sports sponsorship company, Hammerhead, says it has interest not only in a 40-footer, but in backing the whole British team. Their spokesperson, Amanda Davison, said yesterday: "We are well down the track with two or three potential backers."

They also have Lou Varney, of the Cowes-based Racing Keelboat Services, in Miami ready to negotiate the charter of a new American 40-footer and co-ordinate crew. In addition, there is a 40-footer designed by Judel Vrolijk which is being built in Falmouth for a Greek owner, which would be available for charter.

"It would be better to have boats bought and held in this country," Aisher said. "By chartering we would have a team, but then the boats have to go back."