Domestic rivalry is likely to be as fierce as the battle for overall supremacy as the world match racing circuit moves to Britain today with the opening rounds of the Lymington Cup, the third Omega event of this year's 10 grands prix, part-funded by the Foundation for Sports and the Arts.
The winner of the first two - in Perth, Australia, and Long Beach, California - Rod Davis, and last year's winner, Lawrie Smith, are absent. However, seven of the world's top-ranked 20 and four Olympic gold medallists are competing.
Britain's two leading match racers, Eddie Warden Owen and Chris Law, will be looking over their shoulders at a third British competitor, Andy Beadsworth, the current RYA champion who will also be representing Britain in this year's Nations Cup.
The competition in the Beneteau 35F5's should be keen. Bertrand Pace, will be representing Marc Pajot's Defi Francais America's Cup syndicate. Opposing him is Marc Bouet, formerly the starting helmsman alongside Pajot and Pace in San Diego, but now with the rival French syndicate in Antibes. With Pace will be Luc Pillot, who won bronze in 1988 and gold in 1988 crewing in a 470 dinghy for Thierry Peponnet.
All will have to watch for Jesper Bank, of Denmark, and the Dutchman Roy Heiner, who is devoting himself almost single-mindedly to the match racing cause.
BRITISH STEEL ROUND THE WORLD CHALLENGE Fourth Leg (Cape Town to Southampton): Positions, with miles to the finish: 1 Group 4 2,105; 2 Commercial Union 2,111; 3 Nuclear Electric 2,126; 4 Pride of Teesside 2,140; 5 British Steel II 2,144; 6 Rhone-Poulenc 2,148; 7 Coopers & Lybrand 2,183; 8 Interspray 2,211; 9 Hofbrau 2,251; 10 Heath Insured, 2,443. Results supplied by BTReuse content