Sailing: Blake backs British bid for Cup

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The Independent Online
The man whose job it is to defend the America's Cup for New Zealand in 2000, Sir Peter Blake, yesterday called for a major British challenge after beating them in the final of a warm-up regatta in Auckland.

"To do as well as the Brits have done is a very good way to start out," he said. "I think people in Britain should sit up and take notice as they could be a very strong and potent challenge indeed. Forget sticking knives in backs, get behind it, and make it something to be really proud of."

The British team bidding to represent the Royal Dorset Yacht Club at the America's Cup in 2000 beat off the New York and San Francisco yacht clubs and France's Societe Nautique Port Camargue to meet the defending Team New Zealand in the invitational mini-series final on Waitemata Harbour.

The British skipper, Chris Law, found his Kiwi counterpart, Russell Coutts, in masterly form, losing the series 4-1, but Chris Witty, the British team chief, said: "Britain has the talent, the technology and the money. Like Formula One, some teams are content to mess around at the back of the field. That is not in our nature. We want to compete with the best and beat them."