Sailing: Boost for new Stars

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The Independent Online
OUT OF adversity, a new partnership in British Olympic yachting was given considerable extra strength yesterday. Ian Walker, the 470 Dinghy silver medallist at the 1992 Olympics, announced a boost to his campaign with Mark Covell to represent Britain in the Star keelboat in Sydney next year with the United Airlines-funded acquisition of a second new boat.

Walker's partner in Savannah, John Merricks, was killed in a road accident at Punta Ala, Italy, in 1997. Covell had been teamed in the Star with Glyn Charles, the helmsman washed overboard and lost in the storms of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race five months ago.

Walker was hit hard by the death of Merricks after he escaped from the same vehicle. Ironically, this year's Star world championship, where one of the remaining Olympic places will be on offer, will be staged at Punta Ala in September.

The pair start a series of European regattas with the gathering of Olympic squads in Medemblik, Netherlands, next week for the Spa Regatta.