Sailing: Bedford leads to lift mood: Life not a breeze as sultry weather takes its toll

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ONE bright moment for England, after a dismal opening couple of days, was the sight of David Bedford putting the Mumm 36 yacht, The Wall, at the front of Class Three as the Commodores' Cup fleet set out on its long offshore race last night.

There was a long way to go, but it is very difficult for others to find the extra speed to pass these boats. Eight of the nine in Class Three are Mumm 36s and they are all equal on handicap.

After a false start and recall for the nine three-boat teams, they were sent on a little leg west down The Solent, turned, and then, with the tide flooding under them, went out through the forts at Portsmouth into the Channel and a back-and-forth test between Selsey Bill and Brighton.

The big boats were again led by the American yacht, Falcon, sailing for their White team, and Class Two was led by the German yacht, Omen. England's Class One contender, Chris Little's Bounder, and the Class Two representative, team captain David Walters' Jackdaw, were both well down.

They are all probably in for a long haul, not so much in terms of the 170 miles of race course, but in the time taken to cover them. Weather that will have people on land remembering the summer of '76 will not be welcome to those trying to coax a yacht through light breezes and fighting strengthening tides.

The race carries double points, which should see one of the two American teams, USA White, gain an almost unassailable lead.